July 20, 2019 | 96° F

EDITORIAL: CAPS deserves claps for new initiatives

Changes to center will encourage community to seek help if needed


Students at Rutgers are fortunate to go to a University that puts an emphasis on the importance of mental and emotional health. The University has recently made many strides to demonstrate to the student body that their emotional health is important, and that should they ever need someone to talk to, people are available and ready to listen to them. The University is doing this through the changes being made at the Center for Counseling, Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program and Psychiatric Services (CAPS).

CAPS reported that it had a 16 percent increase in group visits and a 5.5 percent increase in initial screenings with students. Some may think that an increase in the number of students seeking help is negative, but this is not the case. This rise in the number of visits to the CAPS does not signify more students are discovering mental health problems, but rather, it indicates that more students are comfortable with talking to counselors about the issues they are experiencing. And this might have to do with the new initiatives put in place by CAPS to accommodate the influx of students visiting.

The center has created the “Let’s Talk” workshop where faculty, staff, students and student groups can focus on individual intervention and consultation. This is especially useful for those who do not want to engage in full-fledged therapy, but rather want someone to talk to informally. This encompasses the best part about CAPS: It accommodates for those who just need a shoulder to lean on and also for those who are in dire need of counseling.

CAPS is also taking a lead on changing the way they hire counselors. The process will focus on hiring applicants with diverse backgrounds — not only in terms of racial, ethnic or sexual identity — but also in terms of life and professional experiences that the counselors have faced. This will allow those who seek help to receive it from counselors with a variety of professional backgrounds. This can encourage students who feel the counselors might not be someone they can relate to, to visit the center and speak to someone. Sharing your problems can become easier when the other person either personally has had similar experiences or professional experience dealing with the issue and can understand where you are coming from.

Lastly, CAPS has created a system where people seeking services can do so through online scheduling. This makes it easier for those who may be scheduling an appointment for the first time that may be nervous about seeking help.

The initiatives that are being established within CAPS are creating an environment for the Rutgers community to feel more open to seek help about their issues. And in a college experience, this feat is extremely important to a successful experience. It is wonderful to see CAPS making such great efforts to make its programs and counseling as inclusive as possible. The only thing left is to wait and see how the program handles these changes. Hopefully, they are implemented smoothly and carried out to their full capacity so that CAPS can help as many people as they possibly can.

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