Almost everyone on campus has had or knows someone who has had a negative experience with CAPS. Difficulty getting an appointment, being rescheduled last minute, or maxing out on visitations are common lamentations from those with strong anti-CAPS sentiments.These problems all have a simple solution, which is to re-exaimine CAPS funding.
Frankly, these feelings of discontent with CAPS are understandable. It is incredibly difficult to work up the courage to seek help for a mental health issue, only to feel rejected and turned away. Unfortunately, this is a frequent occurrence for the students of Sonoma State.
It gets even more frustrating when it feels that the campus is almost mocking our inability to access on-campus psychological services when Lobovision lights up with mental health awareness and an advertisement for an overcrowded, limited resource.
According to the CAPS website, each student has a limit of 10 individual sessions per academic year. After that, a student requiring ongoing help will receive a referral to outside resources. And students with significant history of substance abuse, hospitalization or chronic suicidal ideations are often referred to an off-campus resource during or after the first session.
While these policies are generally in place for the well-being of the students, it seems to be very easy for students to feel disregarded and alone.
Keep in mind, these students are seeking help, and it is not unreasonable to be disheartened and feel like the resource on-campus dedicated to students’ psychological health is sending you somewhere else. Especially if an off-campus resource is not financially accessible.
According to Dr. Laura Williams, CAPS only has four therapists on staff for this academic year. US News reports that as of this year there is 8,551 students that attend Sonoma State. Meaning there is only one therapist per approximately every 2,138 students.
With the stigma against mental health slowly falling aside, more and more students are finally trying to get help, so it is unconscionable that CAPS is so critically understaffed.
Not only are that, they are severely underfunded. When speaking to Dr. Laura Williams, she said that CAPS is entirely funded by student fees, with the Sonoma State Student Charges webpage reporting that CAPS is only getting $59 per student per semester for funding; nowhere near enough to sustain more than a handful of counselors and therapists.
Basically, in order to get the help that students are asking from CAPS, they are presented with two options. Either they subscribe to the idea of raising fees, or Sonoma State funds CAPS another way.
College is already so expensive, and so many students are paying out of pocket and taking out loans to put themselves through school, that any significant raise in student fees could really hurt people financially.
But for a school that so heavily boasts about its caring nature, it sure does seem like the mental health of its students is not much of a priority.
The small office space and lack of therapists on duty really feels like a message to the campus, that CAPS is here so that it can claim a mental health resource is present, but only if you’re in dire need, and even then, it is not guaranteed.
CAPS must be an open, accessible resource that people do not have to wait weeks to get into. Sonoma State owes it to its students to prioritize their mental health and give CAPS the financial attention it deserves.