A New Online Tool May Improve Mental Health Care In Utah

Oct 22, 2019

  

Utah State University researchers have recently released a new online tool to help Utahns improve their mental health.

“It’s called ACT Guide, and it’s an online self-guided program that we created for adults living in Utah or beyond, that are interested in improving their mental health and well-being,” said Dr. Michael Levin, co-director of the ACT research group at Utah State University.

ACT is an acronym, it stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

“It’s an evidence-based treatment that has been studied for several decades now, showing it’s helpful for a wide range of different issues.” 

Dr. Levin hopes that the ACT guide will improve access to mental health services for adults around the state.

“You certainly can use it while you’re in therapy, but that said I think this could be used also as a stand-alone for people who, for various reasons, aren’t able to or aren’t really at a point in their lives when they want to go to therapy yet,” Levin said.

“Broadly, I’m always a big advocate for any ways that we can increase access to providers, because I think that in general in Utah, we’re under-resourced in terms of the availability of providers.”

Efforts have been made recently to improve access to mental health care in Utah for some populations.  For example, the Utah legislature is currently considering a bill that would provide millions of dollars to public schools to hire social workers and counselors, as well as to provide funding to the SafeUT Crisis Line, to provide crisis intervention services to youth throughout the state.

However, there is still room for improvement in some places. Universities in Utah struggle to meet the needs of their student populations, leaving students to wait weeks for services. Utah State University includes mental health services in their student fees, but only a small portion of the fees goes to the counseling center -- $13.96 per student per semester.  Compare this to the $138.33 per student per semester that goes to supporting athletics.

“There’s a lot of stressors and people struggling in their life that need help," Levin said. "So, I hope ACT guide can give an additional resource, as well as hopefully continuing the trend of additional counselors resourced by our state to give services to our students.”