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Togetherall, SHAW’s new program

Khanh Do

Togetherall, a digital peer-to-peer support service, has been introduced by Student Health and Wellness (SHAW) to provide a safe space for Grinnell students to connect with others over shared life experiences. The application is moderated live by licensed mental health practitioners, and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, free of charge for students.  

“It’s to give people that additional network support, adding to people’s existing support systems,” Alexis Steele, manager of SHAW operations, said.  

Through Togetherall, Grinnell students can join in the online platform anonymously and seek comfort with peers across Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S.  

“A lot of students, if they’re hesitant to come to counseling, it’s a way to get support in a safe and monitored way,” Steele said.  

The monitored feature of Togetherall also allows for the immediate detection of crises.  

“When you sign up for the app, you have to provide a phone number … if something is concerning, one of the licensed professionals will reach out,” Steele said. She further explained that the professional simultaneously calls the SHAW system to ensure the student receives proper local support.  

Togetherall includes many modes of expression in its interface, such as discussion posts. While pictures are not permitted for anonymity, students may write about a wide range of interests or issues. “From ‘I’m stressed about exams,’ to ‘I miss my home’ to ‘I really want a dog’ to ‘eating disorders,’” Steele said. 

The diverse peer interface can attend to a large range of discussions, which was a big factor in Grinnell’s implementation of Togetherall, said Steele.  

“One of the things I love is one in four users identify as being a minority. It [Togetherall] is opening up a door for people to get the support that they need for their identities because we know we can’t provide it to everyone in rural Iowa,” Steele said.  

It [Togetherall] is opening up a door for people to get the support that they need for their identities because we know we can’t provide it to everyone in rural Iowa.

— Alexis Steele

This application has offered a peer-to-peer communication platform for over fifteen years, though Grinnell has only been a member since Sept. 1. “This fall, we’re evaluating all of our virtual resources to see what students use and what they find helpful so that we can be financially responsible and helpful for students at the same time,” Steele said. 

As Togetherall joins the counseling programs at SHAW, the student-run Sexual Health Information Center (SHIC) has closed its doors. Dr. Terry Mason, dean of health and wellness, said that students giving sexual and medical advice is a liability. Similarly, Togetherall depends on students giving advice on discussion boards to promote peer-to-peer support. When asked how Togetherall is not a liability, Steele said, “It’s monitored constantly by medical professionals.”  

Per Mason’s comments on the Togetherall website, both the clinical moderation and peer support offerings of the application are of utmost value. This social aspect is integral to Togetherall. Steele said, “The people that are on there want to be on there, a lot of our students want to help and support people. It [Togetherall] is a way for them to do that and can help uplift.”

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About the Contributors
Addie Persian
Addie Persian, Staff Writer
Addie is a first year from a town smaller than Grinnell (yes, it’s possible) in the middle of Minnesota. She enjoys playing tennis, shopping, eating sour candy, and going to the casino; all of which are definitely not an addiction… She is intending to major in psychology and/or political science and loves to write both scientifically and journalistically.
Khanh Do
Khanh Do, Visuals Editor
Khanh Do is a first-year Computer Science intended. She calls the famous melting pot of culture and food, Hanoi city, Vietnam, home, and so, as you can guess, she is *surviving* D-hall.
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