UCSD received a C+ grade on evaluations of mental health resources available to students as part of the #HowAreYou campaign, announced the UC Student Association (UCSA) Monday.
The evaluations were based on accessibility of services, diversity in counselor training, and outreach on campus, criteria that were chosen based on a questionnaire administered to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) employees and students who have used or tried to use CAPS services.
Factors which contributed to UCSD’s grade were the 1:1,550 ratio of full-time employees at CAPS UCSD to students, the four week average wait time for an initial appointment, and the lack of adequate CAPS spaces for group sessions, as reported by CAPS employees.
“It took me nearly a full quarter to get an appointment,” said a third-year Warren College student, who was diagnosed with depression at a young age. “I liked the psychologist I was assigned to and I felt like I could talk to her, but felt the sessions were too short and too far apart for me to really get what I needed. I stopped going because I didn’t feel like it was helping me, or even able to help me.”
The student was limited to one one-hour session every other week and directed to group meditation sessions for extra support.
The evaluations were conducted across all nine UC campuses. Grades ranged from an F+ at UC Merced to a B- at UC Davis. The rubric weighted each question with different point values to determine the final grades.
“Much to our surprise we had one of the highest grades in the UC system, which I think is a testament to how insufficient and in need mental health services are right now systemwide,” said AS Vice President of External Affairs and Marshall College senior Krystl Fabella.
Fabella stresses that insufficient funding, not any problems with CAPS UCSD, remains the primary roadblock to adequate mental health services for students.
The UC Office of the President implemented an annual five percent increase in the Student Services Fee beginning this year to support tier one mental health services at all UC campuses. According to Fabella, the increase was immediately beneficial to CAPS UCSD. CAPS was able to hire an additional psychiatrist, and is now staffed by three full-time psychiatrists and seven full-time mental health providers.
“Realistically, however, it was like a drop in the bucket,” said Fabella of the fee increase. “It won’t last very long, will not appease the long wait time and student/counselor ratio, and it will be incredibly outpaced by the upcoming increase in enrollment.”
According to the UCSA website, the #HowAreYou campaign was accepted by students at UC Student Congress in 2015. It aims to bring to light the lack of mental health resources available to UC students, and start a conversation about the fact that college students experience mental health issues at disproportionately high levels.
“As a campus, we need to listen to what the increasing need of mental health attention and counseling is actually saying about our student population, about our school, about our student life and campus culture,” said Fabella. “We have this campus culture where positive, social, and supportive student life and network is dominated by a culture of academic rigor, expectation, the need to succeed. You can feel it in the atmosphere and interactions with each other; a sense of heightened expectation to focus on nothing but academics, leading students to feel pit against each other, to forego a natural part of life and wellbeing of involvements, activities, self care.”