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Heartland first to offer new Distance Counseling services to support students

Beginning this fall, Heartland Community College will be incorporating new technology to offer students confidential and secure video counseling via Student Counseling Services.

Heartland is the first community college in Illinois to offer this resource to help support mental health and reduce stress for students. It is also one of the few community colleges in Illinois that has a standalone counseling center for students to talk about and express feelings about college and life experiences. 

Access to services like these can be challenging for some students that attend classes located on Pontiac and Lincoln campuses. The practice of "telemental" health services has been helping meet those needs. 

Faye Freeman-Smith is Heartland's Director of Counseling Services and has been a distance counselor since 2009. "Many students are more comfortable talking with technology, and may be more open and unintimidated to approach counseling," Freeman-Smith said,

Privacy concerns come along with this new technology. Freeman-Smith also expressed that this technology requires advanced encryption beyond the standards that are required for email exchanges. 

Student Counseling is also working toward bringing students apps for their mobile devices for mindfulness and meditation.

Video conferencing software is expected to be available for use by Counseling Services by mid-July. 

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