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College health and counseling centers report an increasing demand for mental health services while students continue to experience barriers such as shortage of providers, transportation, or stigma. Telepsychiatry has been established in some environments to overcome these barriers, but little research has explored an effective higher education model. The purpose of this study was to identify differences in telepsychiatry preferences among college students who have and have not been diagnosed with or treated for a mental health condition in the last year. Students (n = 537; Mage = 21 years; 71% female) at a medium-sized Midwestern university participated in a survey using an adapted National College Health Assessment (NCHA). Differences in preferences among groups were analyzed by chi-square and Cramer’s V analyses with a 95% confidence interval. Among the six hypotheses predicting differences in preferences between the two groups, none were statistically significant. Mental health diagnosis status did not affect any aspect of preferences or perceptions (confidentiality, time, cost, effectiveness) related to telepsychiatry compared to in-person treatment environments. A majority of students (76%) among both groups would prefer seeing their regular provider if using telepsychiatry in the future. Because many college students have not yet been diagnosed, or have been diagnosed but have not pursued treatment, institutions of higher education can plan future mental health services for all students, despite mental health history. Implementing a telepsychiatry model in higher education, especially within college health centers, could help students access much-needed services while breaking down barriers.


Health Science