Michigan State took another step toward fulfilling its commitment to expand student health and wellness services by opening a satellite Counseling and Psychiatric Services, or CAPS, location at the MSU Union.
The second location will initially house six mental health providers — three psychologists, two counselors and a psychiatrist. The goal is to locate up to 10 providers there to meet student demand. In total, CAPS has added seven new providers to its staff since June.
“It’s imperative that we get as much help to students as possible, especially where they live and gather,” CAPS Director Mark Patishnock said. “Study after study confirms that anxiety and depression rates have been rising, with three out of every four college students reporting at least one stressful life event within the past year. This is a real concern, but we’re working tirelessly to provide students with a variety of options and resources. Those include more counselors to work across campus, such as in the Neighborhoods. We have to be accessible to students.”
MSU CAPS helps students with a wide range of concerns. Those include depression, anxiety, stress management, homesickness, adjustment or acculturation, relationships, gender and sexual orientation issues, substance use, traumatic experiences, eating or body image concerns and other personal mental health issues.
“In the constant rush to succeed in college, it can be difficult to realize that your peers are struggling right alongside you,” said neuroscience junior Kelly Russell, a member of the MSU Student Health Advisory Council. “Seeking help for issues will open doors where you’ll find many other students that empathize with the feelings you are having. This creates a more supportive campus environment.”
Many of the changes in student health and wellness stem from a report commissioned through Keeling and Associates in 2016 to help create a more efficient and effective behavioral health and wellness network on campus. The consulting firm was chosen because of its work with more than 200 other universities across the country to build seamless support networks that address student needs and concerns. Other improvements to student health and wellness include:
- Students have 24-hour access to licensed professional counselors through a phone app, MY SSP, which allows them to video chat, text or talk about mental or emotional health issues. My SSP also connects students to resources including articles about anxiety, stress and relationships.
- A student mental health coalition is being formed in collaboration with CAPS to create a unifying group for all MSU students and groups focused on mental health issues.
- CAPS redesigned its clinical intake process to create tailored screening appointments to meet the unique needs of each student.
- CAPS is currently working to hire and embed two counselors within the South and East neighborhoods.
- Group therapy and workshops have been expanded, including training for academic advisers and campus groups on how to identify, understand and respond to mental health issues.
- Mental health staff have access to multicultural and competency training opportunities on a regular basis.
“The good news is that treatment provided by counseling centers is effective and MSU is committed to providing additional resources to increase student health and wellness.” Patishnock said.
CAPS is part of Student Health and Wellness under MSU’s new office of Health Affairs.
College mental health issues are rising
Millions of students are affected by mental health conditions every year. Here are some facts about the prevalence and impact of mental illness from the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
• More than 75 percent of all mental health conditions begin before the age of 24.
• One in four students has a diagnosable mental health illness.
• Suicide is the third leading cause of death in youth aged 10 – 24.
• 80 percent of students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities.
• 50 percent of students have become so anxious that they struggle in school.
• One-third of college students experience depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns, and only 30 percent of those seek help.