Staff Editorial: CAPS problematic scheduling process limits treatment ability

The following is an opinion article and opinion articles do not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

Recent events have caused an increase in students looking for counseling. To help meet this demand more efficiently, Tulane Counseling and Psychological Services should institute an online appointment scheduling system. CAPS offers an online screening process that assesses a user’s risk for depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse and other mental health problems, but a user cannot schedule an appointment directly from this page, and this issue can discourage students from seeking help. 

CAPS has seen a large influx of students looking to schedule appointments because of two recent student deaths. Its current system is not only time-consuming but also stressful for students who are already tense. The negative experience might deter these students from seeking help in the future, as well, even if they are in desperate need of counsel. 

Students looking for help must first walk in or call CAPS. After the initial conversation, the student usually schedules a phone consultation or is asked to come in for a screening. 

The problem with phone screenings is that many students living in residence halls have little-to-no windows of privacy on campus. CAPS essentially forces students to reveal their personal problems to anyone who may overhear the phone call.

Even after this initial consultation, some students have to wait up to a few weeks before they can begin treatment a CAPS psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist. With the urgency often associated with mental health issues, these wait times can prove detrimental to a student’s health and well-being. 

This waiting period stems from the limited amount of full-time staff available at CAPS. The center only has 14 full-time staff, divided between the divisions of therapy, psychology and psychiatry. According to a 2012 study by the National Institute of Mental Health, 18.6 percent of adults older than 18 suffer from mental illness.

CAPS, a relatively young program, established two years ago, is still learning how to help the Tulane community as a whole, both through the Tulane Center for Health and Wellness Promotion’s expertise on prevention and its own resources for treatment. CAPS is a valuable resource for the Tulane community, but CAPS needs to expand and offer a more convenient experience for those in need of counseling services.

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