The Emergency Coaching Network will be accessible until December 2021.
On March 24, the Gorlok Gazette newsletter arrived in student, faculty and staff inboxes, informing of the university’s new Emergency Coaching Network.
Justin Barton, director of First Year Experience and Undergraduate Persistence, said his department has seen students who have faced food insecurity, housing problems, technology issues, feelings of isolation and loss of income.
“Mental health is a genuine concern, especially during the pandemic,” Barton said.
This, Barton said, was the main reason Webster wanted to start the Emergency Coaching Network. The service is accessible until December 2021 through the Connections portal or directly at emergencycoachingnetwork.org and is provided at no cost to students.
To bring the program to Webster, Student Affairs partnered with InsideTrack, a non-profit organization that focuses on student enrollment, completion and career readiness. According to InsideTrack’s website, they have coached over 2 million students and provide 4,000 programs nationwide.
Barton said InsideTrack, the Online Learning Center and Senior Staff for Student Affairs collaborated to finalize the Emergency Coaching Network.
“My department, being the Department of First Year Experience and Undergraduate Persistence, works a lot in helping to provide students with resources and … to make sure students have what they need to progress,” Barton said.
The press release for the new service states that its main goal is, “helping students navigate emergency situations, these short-duration engagements will also help them develop more general skills crucial to long-term student success, such as time management and self-advocacy.”
“Knowing that mental health is something that our students face every single day, it was a no-brainer when it came to the development of being able to provide an additional resource for our student population,” Barton said. “This provides us with additional care to help those students get what they need in order to be successful. We want our students to succeed. We want to set them up for success.”
The certified counselors available through the Emergency Coaching Network work for InsideTrack. The counselors are qualified to help students through issues from access to food and proper housing to struggles with PTSD and depression. Students can continue seeing a counselor as many times as they want.
The Emergency Coaching Network is intended to serve in addition to Counseling and Life Development. Barton said the emergency coaching is more appropriate for immediate assistance since the counseling department can take up to 48 hours to respond. However, Barton praises the university’s counselors and encourages students to seek help if they need it.
“We want [students] to reach out for assistance. We haven’t gone anywhere. We’re still here providing services,” Barton said. “The Department of First Year Experience and Undergraduate Persistence is sometimes a misunderstood department because of the name. It’s not just about the first year; it starts with the first year. We’re here to help onboard and help make sure everybody gets into their new identity as a Webster University student, but we’re also here for everybody beyond the first year.”