Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is a mental health service that is provided to all current UCSB students. It is a helpful resource because they offer a few different types of services such as individual and group counseling. This resource is not only for students who have a history of psychological issues, but it can also help students learn how to gain self confidence, reduce stress, and solve problems.
CAPS is a great way for students to focus on themselves by allowing them to talk about their personal struggles. These services provide a way for students to be heard. Also, the professional psychologists employed by CAPS can help with providing information, guidance, and advice.
Having this resource for students demonstrates that the university understands the importance of mental health. Many people, especially college students, struggle with mental health. According to Neumann.edu, the suicide rate for female college students is 4.5% per 100,000 students. The rate for male college students is higher, at 10%. In total, there is a rate of 7.5% for college students.
After tragedies such as a school shooting or suicides, CAPS makes sure to be at the forefront. They are involved with psychological first aid. In an article published by The Bottom Line last year, CAPS director Jeanne Stanford describes the psychological first aid process as “really just checking in with people — seeing are they ok, are they eating, are they sleeping, do they have a place to go … we just wanted to make sure immediately that everyone was ok.”
In addition to this, the article also notes that psychologists provide extra counseling sessions for students who are adversely affected by school shootings or suicides.
CAPS is a good resource, but not many students know about it or use it to their full advantage. Many students I have talked to did not know that the university offered such services. Other students have never been to CAPS or do not go regularly.
The university needs to promote CAPS more. As a way to raise awareness about CAPS, the university could send emails to incoming freshman and transfer students before the academic year starts, and then continue to send emails throughout the year. The university could also send emails to continuing students as a way to remind them that the resource is available if they need it.
Promoting CAPS would be beneficial because it would spread information about this resource to students who need help but do not know where to go, or to those who are scared to reach out for help.
Although CAPS is already a valuable resource, changes can be made to benefit students even more. For instance, scheduling an appointment at CAPS is sometimes frustrating because normally the wait time to see a psychologist is one or two weeks. Furthermore, students are not able to see a psychologist right away unless it is an urgent situation.
This is especially frustrating during dead week and finals week. Many students are stressed out and feel like they are wearing themselves down. There are not enough psychologists at CAPS to enable every needy student to see one during those weeks. In order to make CAPS an even more effective resource, the university should hire more psychologists to accommodate the high number of students seeking help.
CAPS should also create more group counseling sessions. According to CAPS, there are currently 17 group counseling sessions. Each group has a different focus, but if there were more groups that focused on the same topic, it would eliminate the long waitlist. In addition, if there were a more diverse number of group counseling options perhaps more students would seek out help. As of now, some students are not seeking help because the group counseling option is not a good fit for their needs.