Over 37,000 students have created profiles on YOU@Fullerton, the virtual and confidential self-help resource platform, out of a student population of nearly 40,000, said Kevin Thomas, associate director of counseling and psychological services.
In addition to the student profiles, over 1,400 staff and faculty members have also created accounts, which increases the chances of this resource reaching the students.
Vincent Vigil, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, and Thomas gave a presentation on the resource at the academic senate meeting on Thursday.
YOU@Fullerton is catered specifically toward Cal State Fullerton students, providing various articles and activities for mental health check-ins and general student wellness, all of which are only a click away.
“There are articles, resources, videos for students on all aspects of student life. It’s primarily founded under mental health and wellness, but it expands much further than that so there are pieces of how to be a successful student,” Thomas said.
The three core values acting as the driving force behind this initiative are to succeed, thrive and matter, with each value targeting a different sector of student life, such as finance or academics under “succeed” or identity under “matter.”
In addition to regularly updating the site with the usual how-to article or goal-setting reminder, Vigil and Thomas wanted students to feel more comfortable using campus resources by initially looking for help on their own, without the pressure or effort of meeting someone in person.
“I think we have known for a while that there are some students we try to get into CAPS and not everybody tries to come into CAPS and so I think YOU@Fullerton’s been a great example of we’ll try to reach them where they’re at,” Thomas said. “Because of stigma, because of culture, because of different issues, because of whatever is going on for students, they may not want to. But the hope is through this platform they might be able to get the help that they need.”
Thomas said that the website’s most active hours are from midnight to 4 a.m., which is when CAPS is closed as they only operate Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Similarly, Vigil said that while professors like himself want to serve the students, they are not always available, especially outside of their normal work hours. Fortunately, this platform is available after regular business hours.
Since the content on YOU@Fullerton is curated, researched, evidence-based and catered toward college life, students can also browse more safely and confidently than if they were to do a basic Google search.
“I’ve always heard from faculty that they care so much about their students and they want to help them in any way they can,” Thomas said. “I want to give them everything I can and I think being able to have this additional resource that faculty can start sharing with students to be able to have this or be integrated or talked about during classes, I think is a really great way.”
YOU@Fullerton is one of 12 CSU campuses participating in a two-year pilot program for the YOU@College platform, a confidential, personalized and digitized wellness resource created by behavioral health experts to provide students with content tailored to their unique needs.
The CSU Chancellor’s Office was looking for a new way to address student wellness, specifically mental health. When YOU@College asked to pilot the program on the CSU campuses’ diverse populations, CSUF was selected as a pilot institution.
“We have a very diverse student population and typically when you’re a first-generation college student from a diverse background, counseling or mental health resources are something that you don’t really talk about, like you don’t talk about in your household. Your parents don’t talk to you about going to go see a counselor a lot of times,” Vigil said.
As a first-generation college student who has experienced this firsthand, Vigil said he hopes that this platform will serve those students especially to get the professional help that they need and to act as a pathway for those students to start learning about mental health.
Even though the platform was initially designed to be a virtual tool, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of last year accelerated the necessity for its debut.
“When the pandemic happened, we were able to launch YOU and that’s when everything was going to the virtual modality. So having YOU as a tool within our toolkit, within CAPS, was excellent. The timing just kind of worked pretty well so we rushed the publicity and rushed YOU to get out there with our students when COVID happened,” Vigil said.