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CAPS Increases Free Appoints, Counselor Availability

After extensive evaluation, task forces and student input, Cornell Health’s psychological health reforms went into effect with the new semester — that includes free sessions, easier scheduling, and a variety of care options.

VP Ryan Lombardi first introduced the changes in March. The improvements include increased access to psychological health care in the form of free, 25-minute face-to-face counseling appointments that can also be scheduled the same day, the executive director of Cornell Health, Dr. Kent Bullis said.

The reforms were inspired by the success of the “Let’s Talk” counseling program that offers free drop-in sessions. As part of the updated services, Cornell has expanded Let’s Talk at places around campus and has further expanded group counseling options for those looking for peer assistance.

Over the last two years, Cornell Health has raised its Counseling & Psychological Services staff by 15%. Currently, there are 40 counselors on employees, 37 of them full-time, per Bullis. This represents a ratio of 694 students to each full-time counselor.

The increase in employees has come at a time where there has been a rise in students using mental health resources, and the change in the service model is supposed to account for the rising number of college students that increasing counselors can’t address.

In 2018, 25% of students used CAPS services, which was an 11%-point increase from the prior 12 months.

Cornell Health is at present using monitoring tools like an online dashboard to track appointment requests, the kind of service, and the specific supplier.

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