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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A UF mental health team will launch a new online treatment for anxiety in the fall.

The program, offered by the UF Counseling and Wellness Center, will be pilot-tested and compared with more traditional treatments such as face-to-face and group therapy.

The most common reason for students to withdraw from college is mental health problems, UF psychology professor Laurie Mintz said.

On average, students wait four to six weeks to begin treatment at UF. The online program will eliminate patients’ waiting time by one-third to one-half.

“The most important thing is that students get good treatment,” said Sherry Benton, director of the center. “But being on a waiting list is hardly good treatment.”

The program consists of seven sessions and takes seven to 10 weeks to complete. Each session includes assessments, videos and exercises.

Patients will have access to an online support group through chat rooms monitored by a therapist. During each session, therapists will review assignments and conduct a 10- to 15-minute phone call or video chat consultation with each patient.

Treatment is open to any UF student suffering from anxiety. Interested students should contact the Counseling and Wellness Center.

If the program is successful, Mintz said the team will further research online therapy for other mental health issues, such as depression and eating disorders.

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