An email sent to the Penn community this morning announced immediate new hires at Counseling and Psychological Services.
Parents received a similar email shortly after.
Penn President Amy Gutmann, along with Provost Vincent Price and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, sent the emails following report of the death of College sophomore Elvis Hatcher Tuesday.
According to the email, three new permanent clinical staff members will be hired at CAPS, effective immediately. The scheduling of current staff will also be altered to accommodate student needs. CAPS will extend its hours into the evening and will also offer weekend appointments.
“I don’t want to waste time [before] reaching out to students who are so saddened by this,” Gutmann said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. “It’s really right now that we have great need and I want that need to be addressed to the best of our ability.”
This statement — which is the second this week — comes as a response to the four student deaths that have occurred over the past several weeks and the issue of mental health.
“These deaths are not connected, but raised the issue and put students under significant stress that needs to be addressed immediately,” Gutmann said.
Last week, CAPS announced it would be hiring three more staff members until the end of the semester. The announcement from the administration Thursday makes permanent those measures.
The full of the text of the email is below:
A Message to the Penn Community Addressing Student Mental Health Issues
Amy Gutmann, President
Vincent Price, Provost
Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President
Nothing is of more paramount concern at Penn than the health, safety and well-being of our students. As a follow-up to our recent message to the Penn community regarding student mental health, we are writing to inform you of recent steps that we have taken to support the mental health of our students, and outline additional steps that will be occurring to ensure that we are doing everything possible to reach and assist students in distress.
Everyone at Penn is terribly saddened by our recent student deaths. Members of our community are grieving these losses. As a consequence, our support service groups, including the College House System, Weingarten Learning Resources Center, the Office of the Chaplain, and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), need additional support. While all evidence indicates that the recent student deaths are unrelated to each other, and certainly unrelated to the work done at CAPS, we know that the needs of the community are placing greater than ever demand on our valuable student support teams.
As a result, we are taking immediate steps to expand our mental health efforts and to ensure that we are doing everything possible to reach and support students in distress.
Over the past eight years, we have grown the senior staff at CAPS, including psychologists and psychiatrists, by over 10 FTE. Total clinical staff has increased from under 25 to more than 37 FTE over this same period. In recent months we have expanded group therapy, which has proven to be attractive to many students.
Effective immediately, we have approved the hiring of three new permanent clinical staff in CAPS. As it will take some time to recruit and fill these positions, in the interim, we will hire three additional temporary clinical staff. We will also realign scheduling of current staff to allow for more flexible scheduling of appointments at CAPS. This will permit CAPS to extend their hours and make evening and weekend appointments available. The additional temporary staffing is needed to make this happen quickly.
It is important for everyone in the Penn community to look out for each other. This is a unique University with a special sense of being an extended family. We will expand our institutional efforts to support mental health needs. We feel a deep sense of grief for the recent losses. Let us also be sure that we are all doing everything we can to assist those in need and do our very best to keep all Penn students safe and well.