Last week, Rebecca Werez decided to seek counseling for her mental health. Soon after, she saw an announcement on Twitter that Temple would be offering a mental health-focused meditation app exclusively to student-athletes for free.
“It feels like a slap in the face,” said Werez, a senior journalism major. “It feels like the university is saying that regular students are not as important as athletes.”
She opted not to seek treatment at Tuttleman Counseling Services, an on-campus mental health service for students and faculty, after seeing the announcement.
On Sept. 23, Temple Athletics Department announced a new partnership with Headspace, a popular self-guided meditation app, that will provide more than 500 student-athletes free access to the app. The subscription typically costs $12.99 a month but offers a $9.99 annual student discount rate.
Werez, along with other students, tweeted to express their discontent with the announcement.
Stephanie Ives, associate vice president and dean of students, emailed Werez directly about her tweet to encourage her to seek services at TCS and offered to meet with her in person.
“It totally missed the point, which is, yeah, we have access to this service, but why aren’t we receiving the same level of assistance as athletes,” Werez said. “Offering to meet with me in person is a nice gesture, but you aren’t a therapist so it doesn’t really help anything.”
“Tuttleman Counseling Services offers a variety of treatment options for Temple students because we know that different treatment modalities work for different people,” Ives wrote in an email to The Temple News.
Temple reacted to students’ responses on Twitter by reminding them that all students have access to Headspace at the Resiliency Resource Center, an alternative self-care center, a part of TCS.
The center offers the app on two iPods available to students at its facility and offers meditation tracks to listen on six other iPods.
“The use of these apps is free and students can experiment with as many as they like,” Ives wrote.
If students find a particular app they want to purchase, they can get financial support to do so by making a request through the Student Emergency Aid Fund, she added.
The RRC is only available to students who have completed a preliminary appointment, which requires a computer registration intake and a counselor interview, taking up to 90 minutes during weekly walk-in hours at TCS.
“It’s complicated and frustrating,” Werez added. “There’s a difference between having to go through all these processes, go through the time it takes to be seen, versus them just handing it to the athletes.”
Lucy Reed, a senior public relations major and captain of Temple’s women’s field hockey team, said that the announcement was well-received among the student-athlete community.
“This wasn’t given to us out of nowhere, it was definitely an issue that was identified within the athletic community across all universities,” she added.
Reed said the negative feedback from non-student-athletes was a miscommunication.
“It’s about knowing the resources the university as a whole is providing, and then separating that from our athletic department,” she said.
Alessandro Mancini, a senior sport and recreation management major, said when using Headspace, he was frustrated to find the stress relief category he wanted was locked behind a paywall.
“I’m not a revenue-generating school playing athlete, but for a university that claims to care about the mental health of their students … it’s very disappointing to see this offered only to a select group,” he added.
Ray Betzner, associate vice president of strategic marketing and communications, said the app was initially made available to students at the RRC to address’ students increased concern about mental health.
“There’s a lot of contact between student-athletes and coaches, coordinators and other Temple staff, so it made sense to pilot this service with athletes,” he said. “If it proves that the app is useful, then we’ll look into making it available for a broader population.”
He added that he sees the conversation about Headspace as an opportunity to inform students of available resources.
“Regardless of what is being offered or not, what this has made clear is that Temple students want and need more support from the university when it comes to mental health,” said Werez.