Last month in Fort Collins, CO a small group gathered on Colorado State University’s campus to celebrate the unique partnership that led to the creation of YOU at College. After nearly a decade of partnership between YOU at College and Colorado State, the CSU Health Network and CSU University Advancement honored Joe Conrad – founder of Cactus and Grit Digital Health – for his ongoing collaboration to find new ways to prioritize college student mental health and well-being through innovative technology.
What started in 2014 as a campus-wide effort to connect with students and promote mental health at Colorado State University ultimately led to the creation of the YOU platform as a comprehensive tool that supports every facet of the student experience – physical and mental health; relationships, purpose, and meaning; and academics, career success, and basic needs.
“We wanted a tool that would bring mental health resources to students, but we kind of had to sneak it in there and hide it among all the other great content,” said Janelle Patrias, manager of mental health initiatives at CSU Health Network. “In focus groups with students, we heard that students did not want a mental health tool. They wanted something that was broader, that spoke to their experience. They wanted to integrate all the ways in which they are working to be successful students and this holistic approach really emerged.”
After launching to the whole campus, YOU at CSU has become the digital front door for CSU students to connect with all relevant campus resources, as well as personalized online psychoeducation to help drive success during school. “It really has become such a relevant and reliable resource for students,” said Patrias. “Folx know what it is, they have name recognition. It’s the first place we encourage people to turn to when they are looking for something to support their well-being.”
Research and evaluation has been conducted with CSU students throughout the partnership to ensure students are finding utility and support they need within the platform. The data shows that 98% of students learned a new skill related to academics, 87% of students learned about a new campus resource, and 76% of students reported that YOU helped them manage their stress. Additionally, since its launch there have been over 287,000 sessions and over one million minutes of utilization on the site. “The partnership has been wonderful,” said Blanche Hughes, Vice President for Student Affairs, “I think it’s a model. I’m very proud to brag about it wherever I go.”
As we look forward, we will continue to build on the foundation that has come from the YOU at CSU partnership. The YOU platform is now expanding impact at over 200 campuses nationwide, and YOU at College has gone from a single platform to a comprehensive suite of well-being solutions: YOU for Students, YOU for Faculty & Staff, HelpCompass, and Nod. “It all began with my experience as a student here on campus at Colorado State in the mid ’80s. This place changed my life,” said Conrad. “What we’ve done and built here together is incredibly unique and powerful.”
YOU at College is a digital health organization focused on proactively meeting the well-being needs of students, faculty and staff to foster healthy and thriving campus communities. YOU at College utilizes student-centered design to build trust, usability, and evidence-basis into all of our interventions. Click to learn more.