An increase of people setting appointments for Counseling and Psychological Services at Cal State Long Beach are requiring students, staff and faculty to wait up to three weeks for scheduled appointments.
Support for CAPS is expected to arrive in the form of revenue from the fee increase made by Student Health Services. Compliment explained that the money received from the fee will go toward hiring more counselors to relieve the already rough workload.
The CSULB CAPS staff is comprised of 11 accredited counselors and three pre-doctoral interns. It’s this team of fourteen people on campus that are expected to serve a student population of more than 37,000 students.
Causes for this waitlist include an increased demand for psychiatric services as well as the workload counselors have to bear in order to complete their individual projects according to Brad Compliment, director of CAPS.
Compliment reassures that those waiting for assistance in their mental health are at the highest priority for the psychiatric organization.
“We won’t leave students out on their own,” Compliment said.
Those in danger of a crisis are able to seek immediate help from CAPS given the severity of their situation. Upon entering, counselors will take the time to sit down with those in need of crisis assistance and can provide additional resources for help.
The increase in the number of appointments is not new to Compliment or those working at CAPS. As part of the International Association of Counseling Services, other college campuses involved in the association meet throughout the year and share similar issues: an increased demand for mental help and a shortage of counselors to provide assistance to everyone.
Psychiatric appointments at CAPS operate in individually scheduled sessions; this is called the “intake stage,” where people attend one session with a counselor to see if further help will be necessary in the future. This is the stage that is quickly filled for appointments and creates the longer wait times.
Counselors must also be available for an “on-call” shift. On-call shifts require a five-hour window of availability, should someone wish to speak over the phone rather than scheduling an appointment.
Appointments and phone calls aside, counselors are also responsible for running group sessions and more delicate sessions for those handling a personal crisis.
“We don’t have enough counseling appointment times that would cover the amount of students that want to use our services,” Compliment said. “The ratio does not add up to what we really need.”
The psychiatric service is expecting to add three to four more counselors as the health service fee increases. But, as the campus accepts more students at the beginning of each school year, CAPS is also expected to serve an increasing student population.
Compliment said that the fee increase is said to “make a significant dent,” but would still not be enough to fully resolve the current situation.
Fortunately for students, there are more resources available to them than just CAPS.
CAPS performs an online screening via their website that provides a self-assessment that can supply those in need with resources that may be of help. The assessment recommends both on- and off-campus therapists and groups in the local area to help those in need. CAPS also provides a 24/7 phone number that can connect people to therapists at any time.
On-Campus Emergency Assistance Network, also known as Project OCEAN, is another on-campus resources that specializes in suicide prevention and awareness for those that may be at risk for self-harm.
Both CAPS and Project OCEAN provide contact information for their own groups as well agencies that can be found both on and off campus at the convenience of any students, staff or faculty who may need it.