In September 2022, a blockbuster report on mental health on campus was published by a mental health working group formed in collaboration between the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), the Office of Campus Life, and University Health Services (UHS).
The report detailed a series of proposals to increase support and resources for mental health on campus. Over six months since the initial release, a number of the action items introduced in the report have progressed, including funding for a counselor outreach program and the establishment of the Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) CaresLine.
“Mental health is part of the work that we are doing and will continue to work on,” said USG President Stephen Daniels ’24, who served as a co-chair of the Mental Health Resources Task Force at the time of the report’s initial release.
USG and the Office of Campus Life have committed to publishing quarterly updates on the recommendations. The next update, set to be released next week, will provide more specific information about Lyft services for transport to off-campus mental health providers to be offered by the Office of Campus Life.
By extending these services, the initiative aims to encourage students to seek off-campus mental health care and potentially meet counselors who are more equipped to work with specific identities or communities, as opposed to utilizing on-campus University counselors.
Daniels told The Daily Princetonian that this particular proposal presented “some more complexities since it deals with an existing partnership that Princeton already has [with Lyft].” He also emphasized the value of the initiative, saying that it is “important that transportation is affordable and available to all students.”
The original report listed several initiatives to be completed by this semester. One of the stated goals was to re-establish the UHS Student Health Advisory Board, which has been successfully implemented, according to Daniels. The student board meets regularly with upper-level staff from UHS and CPS to discuss plans for student engagement with mental health.
Another proposal scheduled for implementation by this semester dealt with the extension of TigerWell, an initiative that includes an outreach counselor program specifically for students with particular identities. TigerWell has secured funding through the fiscal year 2028. Daniels explained that the initiative “funds and expands counselors for international students, student-athletes, LGBTQ students,” and more. Similarly to the Lyft proposal, he said the objective of the outreach counselor program is to “[encourage] people to seek care that affirms identity for different students.”
In an interview with the ‘Prince,’ Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun acknowledged that one of the main obstacles in implementing the report’s initiatives is that “some of these proposals require grants or gifts which can take time. There are also sometimes administrative hurdles, like the requirements of our financial processes that impact how we can distribute emergency funding.”
Despite these challenges, the mental health working group has also secured the funding necessary for the continuation of various initiatives that are planned to be implemented by this summer. The report’s proposal for on-demand counseling services by Fall 2023 was actually implemented ahead of schedule when the CPS CaresLine, a 24/7 hotline, was established in November 2022.
The report also aimed to establish a residential college response system. One initial idea that involved checking on students’ well-being by tracking their dining hall meal swipes is still undergoing review. However, the Residential Life Coordinators (RLC) have now been trained to respond to various wellness check situations where there is no risk of serious harm to an individual or to another member of the community.
Furthermore, decreasing wait times at CPS and expanding drop-in counseling hours were other important recommendations in the report. According to Calhoun, “the average wait time for an initial consultation this past semester has been 3 days, and the average wait time for an intake after the initial consultation has been a week.”
This is a decrease from the initial report, which found that the average wait time for an initial CPS consultation was 5.22 days, with the average wait between initial consultation and intake being 14.75 days. In addition, Yeh College now offers drop-in counseling hours. All drop-in times can be found in this event calendar.
Jeannie Kim is a Features and News staff writer for the ‘Prince.’
Rebecca Cho is a News staff writer for the ‘Prince.’
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