Hastings College offers virtual counseling for students

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Hastings College is one of many schools to move all coursework online, and they've also come up with a way to virtually help students with mental health.

Hastings College is offering virtual counseling for students as campus remains closed due to coronavirus concerns. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)

Since students are now doing their schoolwork from home, some wondered how they'd see school counselors for appointments. So, Hastings College created a way for them to have virtual sessions.

"That seems to kind of alleviate that need to restart with a new practitioner and be able to keep that continuity with the students that we are already working with," said Jon Loetterle, a student counselor at Hastings College.

Loetterle is one of two counselors at the school. He said they typically see around 40 students combined every week.

He said the coronavirus isn't necessarily creating new problems for students, but is adding to already existing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Given this new situation, students can still set up appointments online like they always have. The only difference is that they'll now be sent a link to video chat upon confirmation.

"At least so far with my work with the students via the virtual platform, it's been comforting to them to have at least somewhat return to normal," Loetterle said.

Loetterle has been a student counselor at Hastings College for about 20 years, and has never had to do anything like this before. He said he normally wouldn't do a virtual session, but given the situation, it could be the next best thing.

The video platform the school is using is specific for health and mental health practices. It's HIPAA compliant and has a secure server.

Loetterle said they'll be using this method for at least the rest of the spring semester.