New CPS director Chin hopes to destigmatize seeking counseling on campus| Sep 30, 2013
Calvin Chin, the new director of the University Health Services Counseling and Psychological Services unit, will officially assume the position Tuesday. In the past,Chin served as the director of counseling at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City as well as the assistant director for outreach and community clinical services at Columbia University’s counterpart organization.
Chin acknowledged that there can be a stigma attached toseeking counseling on campus, and has made it one of his administration’s main goals to reduce this stigma.
“I think one of the big goals of any college campus counseling service is to destigmatize," he explained. “One of the effective ways of doing that is to do outreach — get out in the community so that students can see what kind of programming is available.”
Chin was chosen because of his extensive experiencein psychological services and in leadership positions, according to University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua. As CPS director, Chin will be leading a team composed of mental health psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers, as well as postdoctoral fellows and administrative staff at the CPS unit within UHS.
“I really want to get a sense of what students’ expectations are, what the services have been doing to better assess what changes, if any, need be made to make it even better,” Chin said.
Some students have indicated that one aspect of CPS that could have room for improvement is the stigma attached to both struggling with mental health and the process of seeking help.40 percentof all students visit CPS during their time at Princeton, according to the Undergraduate Student Government.
Katherine Clifton ’15, who served as a committee member during Mental Health Week, which was part of the USG'sMental Health Initiative, said she decided to participate in spreading awareness because she noticed the negative and even uninformed climate around mental health on campus.
One of the main goals of the initiative had been making CPS more accessible from the start, Clifton said. To do so, the USG set up a liaison system that allowed residential colleges to have individual contact persons for any mental health needs. Clifton said she appreciated that this program was one step shy of actually walking to the third floor of McCosh Health Center, where CPS is located. Clifton, who is also a residential college adviser in Wilson College, said it now gives RCAs a person they can direct their advisees to as well.
“I just hope that friends and ’zees and everyone feels comfortable to just talk to each other about it, so it can be more of a discussion point that’s accepted rather than looked down upon,” said Clifton, adding that this message is a hard one to address properly.
Last year, CPS held multiple mindfulness workshops that Clifton said had been a good experience for her when she attended. “It didn’t make you feel like you needed help. It was just trying to make your life a little bit easier in some way and make you more mindful of the things around you, which would then perhaps help you to appreciate things and then make you more mentally healthy,” she said.
Farrah Bui ’14, who also worked on the Mental Health Initiative, also voiced disappointment with the stigma attached to struggling with mental health, though she said that she appreciates how receptive CPS has been over the years to new changes and outreach initiatives.
CPS currently offers 13 different support groups for both undergraduate and graduate students, including outreach to some sports teams.
“I think they’re making strides now ... I think it’s important that they continue to do those kinds of things,” Bui said, referring to the programs CPS has recently put in place. “I think it could really help the student body kind of be more accepting of the condition.”
Chin will succeed Interim Director David Campbell, who filled the position vacated by former director Anita McLean.