Continuing the Community Conversation on Mental Health Support for Online Learners

Concurrent Session 4
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Even before COVID-19 disruptions there was strong demand for mental health services at colleges and universities but a lack of clarity on how to respond to the needs of online learners. Join the next participant-driven discussion on the challenges, limitations, and opportunities for designing mental health services for online learners. 


Mitchell Farmer is Assistant Director, Campus Partner Programs for the Office of Online Education at Indiana University. Mitchell supports the development of seamless online student services through a collaborative partnership model with offices across the IU system.

Extended Abstract

Prior to COVID-19 faculty and student services providers working closely with online populations were already voicing concerns regarding: 1) identifying and working with “students of concern” (SOC) in online populations; 2) perceived increases in SOC in online populations without close or easy access to physical campuses; 3) apparent gaps in university documentation, guidelines, and training related to SOC in online populations; and 4) a lack of clarity in student and faculty facing materials and resources on the availability of mental health services to online populations. The sudden pivot to remote learning, the prospect of modified operations for the foreseeable future, and the stress and strain placed on students and faculty have created even more challenges. 

Join us for the next participant-driven discussion on the challenges, limitations, and opportunities for designing mental health services for online learners. This session will build on contributions made by colleagues at OLC Accelerate 2019 as well as UPCEA regional and national conferences.  

During this session, we will work collectively to 

  • Understand the needs of online learners

  • Identify challenges and limitations 

  • Gather strategies from different institutions working toward solutions

  • Set a roadmap for future research, collaboration, and advocacy

This session will depend heavily on open, group conversation and participation in exercises on designing and delivering accessible mental health supports for online learners. Participants will be encouraged to share their research, their models, their challenges, their differences of opinion, or anything else relevant to the conversation. With consent of the group, notes and other contributions to collaborative documents will serve as a takeaway item for participants as well as a basis for future conversations. Participants need not have expertise or experience in mental health services to attend this session. The session is intended for anyone with an interest in the subject.

All participants may benefit from bringing their own devices but can participate without a device. This presentation will focus on transferable strategies and tips and not a particular model, service, or vendor solution.