5 Things You Should Know About the Free Online Therapy Available for UC Students


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Free is a word that everyone loves, especially if you’re in college and don’t have much of a budget. So when “free” is attached to something as important as mental health support, it can be difficult to resist.

If you attend the University of California, you have access to online therapy that is included in the cost of your school’s tuition. While you may be skeptical about what that really means, we’re here to lay out all the facts so that you can focus solely on your mental health journey. We’ll talk about why UC students should take advantage of their access to free online therapy.

Why UC students should explore the option of free online therapy

Mental health distress and disorders are common among university students. In 2021 alone, more than 60% of college students struggled with their mental health, while more than 70% had moderate to severe mental distress. 

Anxiety and depression affect many college students, which can interfere with your ability to turn in quality work, form connections with your peers and explore your personal interests.

But it’s important to remember that you don’t need to have overwhelming mental health disorder symptoms or distress to explore the option of online therapy. It can help you:

  • Learn coping mechanisms and stress reduction techniques
  • Talk through issues that you are struggling to navigate
  • Improve your self-esteem and sense of self
  • Gain judgment-free insight from someone who wants to help you succeed

5 things UC students should know about receiving free online therapy

If you can’t afford the cost of therapy, or your family’s health insurance doesn’t cover mental health services, you might disregard online therapy as an option. But the good news is that UC students have access to free online therapy through the University of California’s Student Health Insurance Plan, commonly referred to as UC SHIP.

Here’s what you should know about the online therapy you can access through UC SHIP:

  1. You’re automatically enrolled into UC SHIP when you enroll as a UC student
  2. All undergraduate and graduate students have access to health care services, like free online therapy, through the benefit plan
  3. UC SHIP is included in your tuition cost, and it’s listed in your student billing account
  4. Behavioral health services covered by UC SHIP can be found in Lyra, a network of inpatient and outpatient services
  5. UC SHIP is compliant with the Affordable Care Act guidelines

Take advantage of a network of outpatient mental services for UC students by starting with Lightfully U 

Lyra provides UC students with access to a large network of trustworthy outpatient mental health services, including Lightfully U. At Lightfully U, we offer free online therapy for UC students through our Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program, or vIOP. 

Lightfully U’s vIOP provides students with the mental health support and tools they need to manage mental health disorder symptoms or distress. Through virtual sessions in a variety of dynamics, you can look at your mental health from every angle and learn how to work toward a future that isn’t held back by your symptoms.

The Lightfully U program consists of:

  • Weekly one-on-one therapy sessions
  • Biweekly family sessions
  • 10 to 15 group sessions per week, led by a licensed provider
  • Alumni resources and workshops

Change is possible. When you’re ready to seek the support of Lightfully U’s outpatient mental health services, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll help you take meaningful steps, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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