by August Linton and Camille Delany
Originally printed April 26, 2023
Art Wardynski has lost almost all of his adult family members in the past few years, most recently his mother. He reached out to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for support, and was only offered a telehealth appointment with TimelyMD.
This wasn’t acceptable to him. As a queer person, Wardynski wasn’t comfortable with the fact that TimelyMD is a Texas-based company, or that they offer faith-based therapy as an option for universities.
“When I’m already going through such a vulnerable time in my life, I don’t want to risk being discriminated against,” Wardynski said. “They told me that my only option was to go through TimelyCare, and that is not an option for me.”
After the death of his mother, on whose insurance he was dependent, Wardynski wasn’t sure if he had the ability to access off-campus healthcare, either. In the meantime, he’s just been trying to finish the school year.
“I feel like I’m just chipping away at energy that I don’t even have,” Wardynski said.
He isn’t alone in his concerns. Many queer students have voiced fears about the safety of the service, according to Landon White, Outreach Director for CPH’s Eric Rofes Multicultural Queer Resource Center (ERC).
TimelyMD is an online mental health company which markets itself to universities as a stopgap and after-hours counseling service. CPH has contracted with the company, it says to provide students with after-hours healthcare.
TimelyMD’s location in Texas, a state that is currently considering over 50 bills which limit the rights of transgender people, is one of the main issues that White has with Humboldt’s use of it.
Other than the objection to university dollars going into Texas, the likelihood of being paired with a non Queer-affirming therapist is too high for many students’ comfort. Even in the relative haven of trans rights that is California, many therapists are transphobic, according to trans students.
“There are other telehealth organizations out there,” White said. “We need accessible mental health services that don’t come at the cost of forcing Queer and BIPOC students to play roulette.”
The ERC advocates for the university to employ more CAPS counselors, especially those familiar with Queer and BIPOC issues. That would take competitive pay, job security, and outreach, said White. They also point out that the accessibility of telehealth is definitely a good thing, but don’t think that TimelyCare is a good option.
The use of online therapy services as replacement for in-person treatment by CAPS forces students into a situation that many are not comfortable with, should they need mental healthcare.
An open letter to the Associated Students, signed by campus groups including the Students for Quality Education (SQE), Queer Student Union, Black Student Union, and clubs such as the Mycology Club and Critical Race, Gender, and Sexuality (CRGS) Club, took a direct stance against TimelyMD. They asked AS to support the campaign against the service, something the body has not yet done.
Student Allison Miranda also feels uncomfortable going to TimelyCare for mental health support due to her and her family’s Queer identities.
“I need support. My tuition is paying for Timely,” Miranda said. “But I know that… LGBT+ students haven’t felt supported by them.”
Miranda is a transfer student from College of the Redwoods, and said that she feels comparatively unsupported at Humboldt.
“They [CR] had three different people, licensed therapists, who were trained in addiction counseling and all this stuff,” Miranda said. “Coming to HSU I expected an equivalent, if not better, experience. [Not having therapy] has impacted my studies.”