Access to mental health care is about to explode for hundreds of thousands of college students across the Garden State.

This fall marks the first semester since Gov. Phil Murphy announced a first-in-the-nation partnership in May that delivers free around-the-clock mental health services to students who need them.

More than 40 colleges and universities in New Jersey are signed up for the virtual platform Uwill.

At no charge to the students or schools — the funding comes from American Rescue Plan dollars for the state — students dealing with anxiety or depression can make an appointment through their device after looking through Uwill's roster of therapists. Students in crisis can get directly linked to a therapist who's been trained in trauma, at any time of day or night.

Uwill also features a series of on-demand wellness programming, such as yoga.

"The beauty of the way this is being offered is a student can take control of their own mental health care," said Michael London, founder and CEO of Uwill.

According to Uwill, 95% of New Jersey's eligible colleges have signed up to participate in the initiative. London said Uwill has the technology and manpower to handle the estimated 300,000 students the platform will reach this fall.

Seton Hall University, which was one of the first institutions to sign on through New Jersey's partnership, conducted a soft launch of the platform this summer.

"We've already had over 100 students sign up for Uwill and begin utilizing it," said Karen Van Norman, associate vice president and dean of students at Seton Hall. "We know that number is going to grow exponentially when the fall semester kicks off."

Van Norman said Uwill serves as an extension of the one-on-one in-person therapeutic sessions that are available for students on campus.

"What we know so far is that the students who are using Uwill are students who have not utilized our on-campus services previously," she said.

Murphy cited a "mental health crisis like never before" among college students, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, when announcing the initiative earlier this year.

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