Virtual support group launched for West Virginia college students

West Virginia

In August, First Choice Services launched a new emotional strengthline, 1-877-HELP-304, to help West Virginians dealing with a range of stress-related issues and emotional fatigue. Recent studies from the CDC show that mental health has significantly worsened during the pandemic. Hundreds of West Virginians have called for help, with more than 200 people reaching out in March alone.

Concern for the mental health of college students, in particular, prompted HELP304 to add a free weekly support group just for college students. The group will be facilitated by a mental health clinician and will focus on managing stress and anxiety.

A recent survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse indicates that a year into the pandemic:

  • 65% of students report having fair or poor mental health.
  • 63% of those who say it’s poor would grade their college’s response to student mental health and wellness services a C or lower (compared to 43 percent of all students).
  • 47% say they could have used some (28 percent) or a lot (19 percent) more support from their college during this time.
  • Only 15% engaged in college-offered counseling in the past year.

The first meeting will be April 22 at 6:00 p.m. Attendance is confidential and attendees will not divulge their names to the group. Participation will be limited, but additional sessions are planned. The meeting will be held on Zoom, and those interested must call in advance to get information on accessing the meetings. They can do this by calling 1-877-HELP-304, texting 1-877-4357-304, emailing, or visiting for online chat. Callers can also talk one-on-one with a trained crisis counselor.

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