CAPS scheduling system causing stress

Eleni Sakellakis, Contributing Writer

CAPS for Counseling Services, Tulane University’s college counseling center, provides a variety of psychological services, from individual therapy to group discussion sessions to care coordination. CAPS’s ineffective appointment-making process, however, makes these services inaccessible for many students. This is particularly prohibitive for those suffering from some of the mental health issues that counseling is meant to address.  

Ashley Chen | Views Layout Editor

According to its website, the only way to schedule an appointment with CAPS is by calling the office during regular business hours. CAPS appointments cannot be made through the Tulane Campus Health Patient Portal, nor is there the option to schedule online, through email or any other method that does not require direct interpersonal communication.

For many students, the prospect of making a phone call or talking on the phone is accompanied by reluctance, fear or stress. This is especially true for students suffering from anxiety disorders, which are one of the most common mental illnesses among college students. Sometimes, this fear of making phone calls can be severe enough to prevent individuals from accessing these services altogether.

A psychological center that is meant to address issues such as stress and anxiety should not worsen or trigger those symptoms for students wishing to access CAPS services. Requiring students to make a phone call to schedule their initial consultation creates an unnecessary barrier to access for a population of students which is particularly in need of the services CAPS provides. Students struggling with anxiety may have their needs go unmet as a result of this ineffective appointment system.  

Even students absent of social anxiety are disadvantaged by a system that requires interpersonal communication to schedule counseling appointments. Considering the stigma associated with mental health issues, many students are already reluctant to seek help when needed. Having to reach out and speak to another individual in order to make the initial consultation may discourage people from taking the first step towards treatment.

Additionally, an exclusively call-based appointment system does little to protect privacy of students. Considering the majority of first- and second-year students are forced to live in on-campus dorms where they share their bedroom with at least one roommate, phone calls are not conducive to privacy.

Consequently, students have little ability to make an appointment in a comfortable setting where they can guarantee they will not be overheard. If a person is hesitant to reach out because of a fear of social stigma, having to talk to someone over the phone to make an appointment may exacerbate these worries.

An online appointment portal would eliminate these barriers. If students were able to schedule a CAPS appointment online as easily as they could schedule an appointment for the Student Health Center, the process of seeking help and accessing counseling services would be less stressful for students struggling with mental health issues.

Students would be able to make an appointment when they feel they need to, without the apprehension that is associated with having to make a phone call. CAPS should introduce an option to schedule appointments online in order to make campus counseling services more accessible and appropriate.

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