It takes courage to admit one’s mental health is not “OK” and to ask for help. In this day and age, where emotional exhaustion and stress are normalized, society has created a stigma around the idea of seeking help and verbalizing mental health issues. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, and vulnerability it is bravery.
However, when students can’t receive the help they need in a timely matter, it can be a dangerous problem.
With the two-week long waiting lists at Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS), it is obvious that CPP is failing to keep up with the mental health needs of its students.
In a sense, student problems are being ignored. Scheduling an appointment at CAPS is a hassle. I have been turned away numerous times, as I once called on a Tuesday morning asking if I could schedule an appointment. They told me to call back next Monday because there was already an extensive waiting list; I couldn’t even add my name to the list.
Being turned away from even scheduling an appointment or getting your name added to the waiting list can lead students to feel discouraged to reach out again for help.
Fortunately, CAPS offers walk-ins for emergency crisis situations, which is definitely a resource worth utilizing if you need to speak to someone right away.However, the flaw with offering emergency crisis walk-ins as the only other face-to-face option if you cannot land an appointment, is that many students downplay their own problems. Unless our thoughts are immediately life-threatening, we are typically in denial about the extent of our issues or the weight we are carrying.
We may not believe our problems or situations qualify as “emergency crisis” worthy, therefore preventing ourselves from getting any help at all, even though we may potentially need it.
With a waiting period as long as two weeks, it also begs the question of what happens to the students in between the time they get put on the waiting list to the time they see a counselor.
Though two weeks may not seem that long, consider it through the eyes of a college student who is already at an emotional breaking point, balancing deadlines, academics among other pressures. If they’re asking for professional help, chances are they have been thinking about it or needing it for a while. So time is of the utmost importance.
More funding needs to go toward mental health resources on campus. It is clear we need more counselors. It’s not acceptable for CAPS to turn away those who seek help, or make them wait long periods. As this waiting list grows, so does the list of students whose problems go ignored and unaddressed.
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