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CAPS offers 30-minute sessions during busy time of year



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A sign informing students about Counseling and Psychological Services sits on a table Nov. 20 in the IU Health Center. CAPS still offers 50-minute appointments, CAPS Director Denise Hayes said. However, it has begun promoting its 30-minute sessions to deal with an influx of clients. Karen Cheng

A tweet critiquing Counseling and Psychological Services has circulated Twitter for the last week, causing concern among students. The concern came from an attached image of a sign in which CAPS announced appointments for the rest of the semester “may be” 30 minutes.

CAPS still offers 50-minute appointments, CAPS Director Denise Hayes said. However, it has begun promoting its 30-minute sessions to deal with an influx of clients. She said the busiest time of the year for CAPS begins the third or fourth week of October and ends during finals week.

Hayes said the 30-minute appointments can accommodate students with less urgent counseling needs, and they are easier to schedule because they take up less time.

She said students can also use the 30-minute appointments to check in with a counselor while they wait for their regular appointment.

“When students are waiting for their appointment, they can have another one to touch base so that they’re not just waiting without support,” Hayes said.

Many students have difficulty navigating scheduling appointments with CAPS. IU senior Eli Tash used CAPS on and off during his sophomore and junior years. The last time he had a CAPS appointment was over the summer. He said he didn’t have problems scheduling appointments himself, but he said he could tell the schedule was busy.

“I felt kind of burdensome to overschedule them,” Tash said.

There doesn’t seem to be enough counselors for all the students CAPS services, he said, and 30-minute appointments seem too short.

“Usually, you’re unpacking a lot,” he said.

Tash said encouraging these short appointments reflects a problem in the system.

“It feels like IU’s way of being like, ‘We don’t have enough money to hire more therapists,’ even though they say they prioritize mental health,” he said.

Tash said it’s a tough problem to address, but he would like to see IU take more initiative in addressing students’ mental health.

Isabel Mishkin is the president of the National Alliance on Mental Health at IU and the president of IU Student Government. She said she’s an advocate for CAPS and other mental health services at IU because of the slogan “IU is home.”

“We should feel safe here," Mishkin said. "We should feel happy here. We should feel secure here. And sometimes, that involves seeking professional help.”

Mishkin used CAPS during her freshman and sophomore years. After her initial appointment, she waited about two and a half weeks for her next appointment.

“It was kind of hard for me to navigate, on top of already having the onus of thinking to myself, ‘Oh, I’m going to counseling right now,’” Mishkin said.

She said it was frustrating, but when she got her second appointment, she established a relationship and a regular schedule with her counselor.

Mishkin said she understands why CAPS offers 30-minute appointments.

“Some students might be able to wait two weeks to get an appointment, and it would have a different impact on their mental health, than other students,” she said.

However, Mishkin said it’s important no matter the situation to be able to talk to someone in a timely manner. She said this is because many people don’t go to counseling until they need it.

Hayes said CAPS offers other services which can be used in place of or in conjunction with one-on-one counseling, including online workshops and support groups.

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