As the semester draws to an end, Counseling and Psychological Services has increased its staff hours to meet the increasing need of students. Increasing CAPS’s capacity through extended hours has been standard procedure for years.
The Director of CAPS David Ramirez explained how this adjustment works. They bring in independent contractors who have been collaborating with CAPS for several years while increasing working hours of the staff.
“We have a group of people we hired, who have previously worked at CAPS, to come in and add [students to our schedule]. So the improvements or the adjustment is that when we get busier, we get more hours from those people, so that when people make requests to been seen, they can be seen in a timely fashion,” said Ramirez.
Along with increase in staff time, CAPS also brings in independent contractors to increase its capacity.
“Now, we are here in April, we are kind of running at peak capacity. So we are providing 225 hours of contact time per week, and we are running two groups, each of which has eight or nine students, and it meets for an hour and a half each week. We have a counselling psychiatrist, who is working with a subset of students who are being seen. And our psychiatrist provides a lot, from sixteen to any hours a week,” said Ramirez.
However, when asked if it was easy to get an appointment, Fanyi Ma ’19 answered that it has been a struggle.
“It’s hard to get a time slot that actually works for me. After I missed several appointments, they cancelled my future appointments and put me on the waitlist,” said Ma.
Ma thinks that to increase its availability and accessibility, CAPS needs to hire more people. However, it is not something CAPS is aiming to do, mainly due to its limited space on campus.
“The building was renovated in 2012. So we went from having four clinical offices, consultation offices to having eight. So the number doubled. So we keep those offices filled with staff everyday of the week. So we can’t add any staff because we don’t have space to put them,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez then explained that, when the independent contractors came in, they had to squeeze in between regular office hours or come after regular working hours.
“They stay till eight or nine during the week. So we don’t have to have a whole separate office but we still can get quite a bit of time, clinical time,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez said that the number of staff at CAPS has not changed much in the past three years. In the last five years, however, CAPS has undergone some big changes in staff number.
“Starting around probably 2012, we added an entire staff person, then the year after that, two people who have been here three days a week. As they retired, the college increased staff time to five days a week. So effectively we’ve added two staff people in the last five years-worth of time,” said Ramirez.
Still, Ma thinks that CAPS need to work on its efficiency.
“The counselors there are professionally trained to help with mental illnesses and respond to crises. They should be serving the students who are most in need. There are other resources on campus (RA, SAM, DPA, SPEAK2SWATTIES) that students can go to when they are ‘feeling down’ or experiencing difficulties orienting social or academic life,” said Ma.
Despite increased pressure on CAPS there are currently no plans to make permanent changes to the service.