With rising student debt and a shaky job market, stressors for college students are taking their toll. In the last 10 years, the number of psychological disorders found in college students has increased: One study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness shows that 40 percent feel overwhelmed by stress on a daily basis. Like many colleges and universities, the University has its own mental health service, Counseling and Psychological Services to combat these issues. Because of its proven benefits, CAPS has been flooded with students seeking counseling. It has become increasingly obvious that it does not have the resources to help everyone who needs it. To ensure that these programs are continued and made more accessible to students, the responsibility lies in the support of CSG and additional funding from the University.
The current wait time for a CAPS appointment is an estimated eight days; however, students sometimes have had to wait two or three weeks for an opening. This delay could be quite damaging to the students who need help. For urgent cases, CAPS offers immediate appointments as well as a 24/7 crisis phone line, but the wording on their website judges an “emergency” with arbitrary time frames. This wording may make students question whether their problem is urgent enough and may discourage them from making an appointment. CAPS would also benefit by implementing late-night and weekend hours so students can get help as soon as they need it. The necessity of CAPS for students on campus is growing, and making these changes now is critical to the continued success of the program.
The fact that CAPS is struggling to keep up with the demand for its services points to a problem with University mental health services. This issue was brought to light in the CSG election by independent candidate Scott Christopher, who campaigned to expand the mental health services program in order to promote campus safety. Though he did not win the election, it’s still crucial that his promise to work on improving CAPS is carried out by the new CSG president. Although the University has had budget cuts, a program as effective as CAPS should not have to feel these effects. If anything, CAPS should receive more funding to expand services. For example, CAPS offers group counseling, a form of counseling some students prefer in order to learn from others. Yet, CAPS only offers a handful of group counseling sessions that only apply to a small percentage of students. With increased funding, CAPS could offer more diverse group sessions that appeal to more students.
With its capable counseling staff, health-education seminars and stress-reducing events like Puppy Day, CAPS is an important and appreciated student resource. Because of its direct connection to students’ well-being and campus safety, continuing and strengthening the success of CAPS is not something that can be casually thrown on the back burner. An improvement in the mental health services benefits the entire student body.