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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Online counseling hurts more than helps

    People constantly say, “Let me know if you need anything,” to people who are going through rough times, but people rarely actually call the person who makes the gesture.

    Loyola University Maryland launched an interactive online program in November that offers psychological guidance to students and has reached more than 1,500 users, according to The Baltimore Sun. Counselors at LUM felt that a large number of students undergoing trauma felt no desire to seek help, which was the biggest motivation behind creating the program.

    The program ultimately eliminates the process of making and going to appointments at the campus psychological center, allowing students to meet online where they can openly chat about the problems in their life.

    It makes sense that mental sanctity, along with everything else today, would be made available online. However, an online forum for students suffering seems risky with potential to spread contagious negativity.

    The American Psychiatric Association examined profiles of 200 college students in 2011 and found that 30 percent of their posts met the APA’s criteria for depression symptoms. Posts about feeling lonely, having either little or too much sleep and difficulty concentrating were considered “depressing.” Also, less than one-third of the people posting depressing updates sought professional help or counseling.

    These findings prove that college students need more alternatives for psychological help. Spare moments are precious, making it extremely difficult to get students to appointments. The incentive behind LUM’s program is logical, but mixing mental health and the Internet is dangerous.

    UA Counseling and Psychological Services has a variety of online services, including screening surveys to determine whether you have an eating disorder, alcohol problem, anxiety or depression. The “Friend 2 Friend” program is even dedicated to students who want to help their friends in need. And that is as far as online counseling should go.

    It seems unhealthy to promote an online forum intended for trading traumatic issues. Hearing about others’ trauma only gives students even more to worry about. Studies have shown that students can become more depressed when reading friends’ updates on Facebook.

    The Baltimore Sun also reports that since college students communicate with each other with so many variations of technology, the counseling system would only benefit from changing how it communicates. Nevertheless, a line must be drawn. Maybe the increase of overbearing functions of the Internet is to blame for making LUM’s program seem risky, but it feels like students should only have a certain degree of reliance on the Internet, and psychological health should not be included.

    With the overload of cyber-activity and cyber-bullying people have surrounding them in every aspect of their lives, dealing with personal hardships and unstable mental health should be left to face-to-face counseling.

    — Caroline Nachazel is a junior studying journalism and communication. She can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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