Student demand for CAPS services rises



Jacob’s House on Main Street is one location that offers counseling hours for students. The locations that offer drop-in hours during the school year are the Prism Center and the Davis Center.

An increase in student demand for mental health services has led to the creation of two new drop-in programs, Let’sTalk and THRIVE, from UVM’s Counseling and Psychiatry Services.

At UVM, there has been a 5.6% average increase in student enrollment, but a 29.6% average increase in demand for mental health services, according to a presentation to SGA by Dr. Harry Chen, executive director of Center for Health and Wellbeing on UVM.

The average wait times for a CAPS appointment is 10.65 days for an initial appointment and 13.42 days for ongoing appointments, according to the SGA presentation. 

To help address the increased demand, CAPS has added the programs Let’sTalk and THRIVE. These programs are drop-ins, meaning they require no scheduling beforehand. 

Introduced in the 2019 school year, Let’sTalk offers 30-minute, one-on-one sessions with a CAPS counselor, while THRIVE, new to the 2020 school year, is a group series where students discuss challenging topics like perfectionism and anxiety with CAPS staff.

Let’sTalk is good for students who don’t need ongoing treatment, said John Paul Grogan, public health outreach director for the Center for Health & Wellbeing. 

Many students only need a couple meetings but the long formal process can deter students from getting help, Grogan said.

“There’s clear data that shows that a lot of students were only accessing CAPS one or two times,” Grogan said. “And so we tried to create something that met that need, especially for something that’s both timely and easily addressed by one or two conversations with someone.”

CAPS has two locations on Main Street and Redstone campus. 

Let’sTalk was created as an effort to make meetings with CAPS counselors more convenient for students.

“We know that sometimes, getting across campus is a challenge,” Grogan said. “Time plays a factor in whether or not someone’s gonna choose to go that drop-in or go to that class.”

THRIVE workshops were also implemented to create more accessibility for students but in a group setting instead of one-on-one sessions, Director of CAPS Carrie Fleider stated in an Oct. 31 email. 

“CAPS started the daily workshops this semester as a way to reach more people and provide more access to skills that students can get and use, without the necessity for ongoing treatment,” the email stated. 

These strategies for managing challenges with mental health are focused on group-based workshops in order to be more accessible to students, the email stated.

“What we’re trying to do is shift the focus to having that available to more students,” the email stated. “We’re excited about it because it means students can get the same kinds of strategies in a more convenient and easier way.”