Inside the CAPS waiting room. Photo by Kate Silber ’20.
“I didn’t hear back from CAPS until a month after I had filled out the form,” a first-year said. “I assumed they had forgotten about me,” he tersely stated.
One often hears similar frustrations about CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) across campus, where rumors of the service being understaffed and the office being unresponsive run amok. And while it is true that the waiting list to meet with a CAPS counselor is approximately around twenty students, CAPS is diligently working to ensure that all students at Haverford receive the help that they need. While this article acknowledges that many have issues with CAPS, this article is purely focused on the current long wait list.
The reason behind the lengthy wait list is due to an increased demand for CAPS services this year. Adam Edmunds, one of the psychological counselors and the outreach coordinator at CAPS, could only speculate as to why this increased demand exists. “I think it is a combination of less stigma and more knowledge that CAPS exists,” he explained.
Philip Rosenbaum, the director of CAPS, explained that across the country there is an increased demand for therapy in general, but the trend is “poorly understood.”
While the wait list remains long, CAPS has implemented a variety of measures to help shorten it. Patty Rawlings, the administrative assistant to CAPS, lists some of the ways CAPS is dealing with the demand: “We are adding a few times and we have added two licensed contractors from the outside to take some of the caseload. Some of the therapists are [also] taking a one hour a week for students [on the waitlist] to check in. And then we have the walk-in hour, which is Monday to Friday from 11 to 12 o’clock.” Rawlings hopes that soon, students will not need to wait for more than two weeks before hearing back from CAPS.
When asked what students can do to help keep themselves healthy when on the waitlist, Rosenbaum shared a list of ideas:
- Reading previous CAPS newsletters (all available on the CAPS website), which include information about self care, procrastination, and identifying negative thoughts
- Taking advantage of neighboring resources (such as the OAR) for academic support
- Participating in the Healthy Mind/Healthy Body program
- Joining a mindfulness/meditation group or doing yoga
- Practicing self-care, including exercise, proper nutrition, and enough sleep
“As a student, if there are concerns about wanting more resources for CAPS, telling us is nice but it is probably better to tell the deans or the president,” Edmunds stated. He admitted that CAPS does feel supported by Haverford but added, “we always need resources. So I’m never going to say that we have enough.”
Rosenbaum points to the new headquarters in Stokes, more resources for staff, and Kelly Wilcox’s new position as Dean for Student Health & Learning Resources as ways that the college is helping CAPS. Rosenbaum suggests that should students be interested in mental health awareness, they should join the Healthy Mind/Healthy Body initiative which “is actively seeking student leadership and involvement.”