Counseling and Psychological Services at Sonoma State University has seen a 22 percent demand increase in just the last year, and a 33 percent demand increase over the last three years, according to CAPS directorLaura Williams. CAPS has hospitalized 15 students for psychiatric reasons just in Fall 2015, as opposed to only five students for the entire 2014-2015 school year.
The International Association of Counseling Services recommends counselor to student ratios of 1:1000 to 1:1500, although the current ratio at Sonoma State is 1:1900.
“Currently, we do not have the funding to meet this recommendation,” said Williams.
Sonoma State students pay $54 a semester in student fees for CAPS. This fee is intended to provide 10 sessions per student, per semester. However, the increased demand has created a situation where if a student is not in crisis, the wait period to be seen could be anywhere from a few days to two weeks.
The National Alliance for Mental Illness reported in a survey of college students across the nation that 64 percent of students who dropped out of college reported it was due to a mental illness, and 45 percent of those students reported they did not receive accommodations. With a national number like that, it is necessary college students have more access to counseling.
For a student with even mild anxiety or depression, just two weeks could be the tipping point for dropping out. CAPS is currently stretching itself as far as it can to accommodate students, but with the rising number of enrollment and demand, it is clear CAPS needs more funding to meet these needs.
Associated Students Senator for School of Social Science, Russell De Jong, created a resolution seeking to reallocate funds to CAPS to hire at least one more full-time counselor.
The resolution addresses the need for more CAPS staff as well as the concern of increased student fees.
Statistics of increased demand for counseling services as well as information from Laura Williams on the severity of how students are feeling were stressed to show more staff is necessary to support the higher student demand. De Jong also included a clause which states the student fee should not be raised.
Students are paying a semester fee for CAPS, and many students won’t get to utilize their sessions because of understaffing.
Taking care of students should be one of the highest priorities for Sonoma State, so it’s natural that additional funds should be allocated to aid the students for the future of this university.