Drexel University Rec Center Kiosk Helps Assess Mental Health

Drexel University Recreation Center is home to a mental health kiosk Photo courtesy Drexel University
<p>Drexel University Recreation Center is home to a mental health kiosk. (Photo courtesy Drexel University.)</p>

Students using the recreation center at Drexel University in Philadelphia now will be able to monitor their mental well-being as well as their physical fitness.

As part of a pilot program initiated by Screening for Mental Health Inc., a nonprofit organization, and the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services, Drexel has installed a MindKare mental health kiosk in the lobby of the recreation center, according to a blog on Drexel University's website. The kiosk enables users to conduct quick, simple self-assessments to gauge their risk for mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, and alcohol or eating disorders.

“A behavioral health kiosk allows users to assess their mental health or substance use issues in a matter of minutes," a blog post on the Screening Mental Health (SMH) website says, “letting them know if their symptoms are consistent with a behavioral health disorder and connecting them with local resources. The self-guided, anonymous mental health screening provides users with the information they need to take the next step toward receiving treatment.”

A combination of crowdfunding and support from the Scattergood Foundation is paying for the kiosk in the rec center, as well as one in the university’s Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services. Those two kiosks are the first ones installed on a college campus, according to Screening for Mental Health.

The SMH blog said the hope is that officials at other colleges will decide to use the MindKare kiosks on their campuses.

“Institutions of higher education will have the opportunity to place interactive kiosks in public, high-traffic areas where anyone passing by can quickly and easily take an anonymous self-assessment to determine whether they might be at risk for common mental health issues,” according to a news release from SMH.

An online version of the assessment, created by SMH, has been available to Drexel students for several years at DrexelMindKare.org.

Drexel says the kiosk is one of many ways the university tries to help students maintain mental well-being. The recreation center also has its own on-site therapy dog, Jersey, to help students cope with the stresses of university life. Studies have shown that playing with a therapy dog can reduce blood pressure and lower anxiety and depression in college students, the university said. [Visit Jersey's Facebook page.]

Drexel University said it is the first university in the country whose recreation center hosts an on-site therapy dog year round.

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