Student Affairs has approved additional funds for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), effective Sept. 1, 2015. The funds, which CAPS requested earlier this quarter, will enable the organization to hire three more full-time counselors.
In total, CAPS plans to increase its counseling staff by five for the 2015-2016 academic year. CAPS is currently in the process of hiring two full-time counselors experienced in working with Native American and African American populations. According to the job posting, these counselors will provide mental health services “with a specific focus on… the African American or Native American student community.”
During last month’s town hall meeting centered on CAPS, multiple students expressed frustration with the wait times encountered when scheduling appointments, with some citing waits of up to three weeks.
CAPS Director Ron Albucher attributed this academic year’s longer wait times to a particularly tumultuous staffing situation, and he hopes that a larger and more stable staff will help drive wait times down to an average of one to two weeks.
“It was extremely abnormal. We’ve never had this many staff either leave for retirement, take another position, go out on medical leave or take [maternity] leave… either sequentially or all together,” Albucher said. “This entire year we’ve been attempting to catch up with staffing, and we’ve always been behind.”
While CAPS provides a 24/7 hotline to service urgent cases, Albucher acknowledged that some students with medically non-urgent cases may find one- to two-week wait times too long. Budget constraints, however, prevent CAPS from realistically striving for wait times below one week.
Albucher also emphasized that, although CAPS does not enforce an institutional limit on the number of counseling sessions available to students, the organization is primarily a short-term care facility. In order to help students navigate care options outside CAPS, Albucher hopes to find at least one of the three future counselors to be well-versed in matters of insurance and referrals.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs Greg Boardman declined to comment on the specifics of CAPS’ budget.
“The University does not provide information about internal unit budget decisions, which are confidential business matters,” Boardman and Albucher wrote in a joint statement to The Daily.
Visit wellness.stanford.edu for a comprehensive catalog of Stanford’s health services. Students with urgent and emergent matters can reach an on-call CAPS clinician by calling (650) 723-3785 at any time; callers will be connected to a clinician within 20 minutes. For life threatening issues that require immediate attention, call 911 and/or visit the nearest emergency room.
Contact Akshay Agrawal at [email protected].