By: Cheyenne Elizarraras and Buddy Casiles
After a decrease in the need for group therapy during the 2020 – 2021 pandemic years, there was a 5 percent increase each following year.
Statistics of CSULB’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) appointments show a drastic difference from 2019, with 7,466 compared to 13,339 in 2022 – 2023. In total, there were 37,134 individual appointments from 2019 – 2022.
The demand for services increases during midterms and finals. The months of March, April, Oct., Nov. and Dec. are the highest.
“CAPS has historically had a high demand for sessions during different seasons, and our goal is to meet students’ needs by adding more spaces, groups and other options,” Amanda De Loera-Morales, CSULB CAPS director, said.
According to DeLoera-Morales, there are several possible explanations for the increased need for mental health services.
“Our students have full lives and might be experiencing housing insecurity, financial struggles, loss of a loved one and/or rapid change in what they thought their lives would be for the foreseeable future.”
De Loera-Morales said the pandemic and other major societal world events could be to blame.
Additionally, mental health awareness and wellness resources continue to be shared more due to the efforts of departments and organizations around campus that have created spaces to engage students and discuss mental health in a more casual manner. As mental health becomes an increasingly important topic, students realize that faculty care about their mental health, making it easier to make calls and reach out for help.
Long Beach State has a variety of safe spaces, mental health programs and resources, therapists and other licensed professionals who are capable and more than willing to help students work through a variety of issues.
“CAPS was a great experience for me, the only issue is that many students require long-term therapy. They were able to give me great resources where I can try and go to long-term therapy. It was a very simple and easy process. CAPS was amazing at providing outlets for resources,” Heaven Sanchez, a Long Beach State student and Associate Justice for ASI government, said.
The number of outreach programs and drop-in spaces such as Sticky Rice, Rainbow Cafe Beach Buddies, Sisterfriends and others have increased over time as psychologists, group coordinators and other supervisors noticed an increased need for services and safe spaces for specific communities.
“It’s rewarding to see six or seven students coming [to Sticky Rice] two weeks in a row, cause for a while it was a few, but for those two or three that would come, it would be really helpful,” CAPS psychologist Diane Hayashino said in a previous interview.
Everyone has a different way of reaching out for help. Some people may prefer a phone call or face-to-face mentoring, and by providing various options drop-in spaces have made it easier for students to reach out and give them more opportunities to find help.
“The [CAPS] therapist I worked with was easy to talk to and gave me a good experience with therapy,” Sanchez said.
Mental health services include CAPS, Project Resilience, Project Ocean, Basic Needs, Active Minds and the Women and Gender Equity Center. There are many unaffiliated organizations for many different types of help and areas of expertise.
“I used some of the resources through Basic Needs programs and met some pretty cool people,” Environmental Science Policy major Jesse Aguiars said. “It was really helpful.”
Although not every student has tried CAPS or other resources, many have become more open to the idea of doing so. In addition, many students who have utilized CAPS, including Sanchez, have said it is a good starting point to get you comfortable enough to find more permanent and extensive help.
“By spreading awareness and creating avenues to engage students, we as a campus are destigmatizing mental health and minimizing barriers that initially would have prevented students from reaching out for support,” De-Loera Morales said. “Each of these options creates an opportunity for students to connect with a counselor who is available to them. Our goal is to ensure our students receive the care they are looking for.”
According to the World Health Organization, older generations have created many stigmas around mental health by underrecognizing and undertreating it. This has made it more difficult for others to reach out for help.
“Trying to normalize some of that [mental health conversation] and break down some of the barriers around accessing mental health because I think there are a lot of myths around you gotta be failing out of class, wanting to hurt yourself, things have got to be extreme before you reach out, but we want to say no you can be proactive,” Hayashino said. “Research shows Asian American and Pacific Islander students don’t utilize mental health because of other barriers and stigmatization.”
As people become more aware of the issue, campaigns for mental health awareness, outreach programs and other resources have become more readily available. Mental health websites and applications such as BetterHelp or Headspace, have become increasingly popular and appeal to younger generations, leading to an increased number of people who use the resources.
During after-hours, CAPS has a contracted phone service with licensed professionals. For more information about CAPS, visit https://www.csulb.edu/student-affairs/counseling-and-psychological-services or call 562-985-4001 to schedule an appointment.