Improving Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment

KU provides counseling to rural college students via telemedicine
KU Medical Center psychologist Eve-Lynn Nelson is leading a project that utilizes video conferencing to provide counseling to students at colleges across Kansas.

Although college students often think they’re invincible, many struggle when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

But thanks to a University of Kansas Medical Center initiative, students at Kansas colleges can now access free mental health and substance abuse counseling via video conferencing – or “telemedicine” – with mental health professionals. The goal is to identify and help high-risk students so they can stay in school.

“Students often avoid substance abuse treatment because of a lack of access to counseling, especially in rural communities, or because of stigmatization,” said Eve-Lynn Nelson, KU Medical Center psychologist and lead investigator for the project. “Telemedicine helps overcome these barriers.”

The project is funded by a federal grant to improve substance abuse prevention and treatment among rural college students.

The initiative began in 2012 with telemedicine services at Bethany College, followed by Hesston College in winter 2013. Fort Hays State University and Independence Community College will begin offering services this fall, and 11 additional schools have expressed interest in joining the initiative.

“Students in rural towns face unique challenges, “Nelson said. “Now we can help.” 

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The Master of Social Work program at KU offers educational opportunities for those who wish to help individuals and communities develop their capacities to support and enhance individuals’ quality of life.

KU’s MSW program is ranked No. 15 nationally among public universities by U.S. News & World Report.

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