TAMPA, Fla. - A new app called Therapy Assistance Online--or TAO connect for short--is aiming to to offer mental health services to students who need them, all around the globe.
It's a website and an app that allows students to get help when they need it, without having to wait for a doctor's appointment. TAO offers students 20-minute face-to-face sessions with counselors from the comfort of wherever they are, and that helps some people get around a fear of seeking out help in person. Psychologist Sherry Benton, a former counselor at the University of Florida created the program in response to an overwhelming need on campus.
"We couldn't keep up with demand," she told Fox 13. "There were more students that needed help than we could possibly accommodate."
TAO is now available to 1.3 million students at 84 universities across North America, included as part of their tuition.
Eventually, TAO could be available to provide counseling for people beyond universities, to give everyone the access to counseling they deserve, at a price they can afford, and without having to schedule child care or take off work to see a doctor.
"If you don't have access then basically you just suffer," Benton said. "[Even] if you have health insurance but don't have providers, it doesn't help."
Every year 43.8 million adults in America experience mental health issues. That's 1 in every 5 Americans. Offering cheap and easy access to services like TAO means that more people from all walks of life could have access to counseling when they need it, and that potentially could save lives.