Far fewer students visit Counseling and Psychological Services in the summer than during the school year, but the department maintains its operations, albeit on a smaller scale, from May to August.
“Way fewer students are on campus, and the number of students who come to CAPS in the summer really drops off,” CAPS Executive Director Bill Alexander said.
Alexander added that last year, an average of 1,360 students visited CAPS each month during the summer- only around 45 percent of the 3,100 monthly visitors during the school year.
However, Alexander said that CAPS continues to provide services to students despite the reduced demand, including resources such as group programs and programs embedded in professional schools.
“Everything stays the same, it’s just a lot smaller,” he said. “It all scales down.”
Specifically, the evening and weekend hours for CAPS are reduced. During the school year, CAPS is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, as well as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and Friday.
The CAPS website states that there are no Thursday evening hours from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. between May 17 and Aug. 23 and no Saturday hours between May 5 and Sep. 1. CAPS remains open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday and on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Rising College junior Daniel Gonzalez said that despite the reduced hours, he has found it easier to schedule CAPS appointments during the summer because there are fewer visitors.
Gonzalez said that available appointments during the semester are “always at very tough times," adding that “now in the summer I can get an appointment fairly quickly, with much more options.”
Gonzales said he has not been affected by the reduction in evening hours because his summer job is “very flexible," yet he acknowledged this might be an issue for students with more rigid schedules.
“It’s been pretty convenient on my end,” he said. “I can see it being trickier for some other people.”
Alexander said the reduction in student visits to CAPS during the summer also allows some staff members to take vacations.
He added that “a huge percent” of the 35 full-time CAPS staff members take vacations during the summer, especially because they cannot do this during the school year. Typically, six to ten staff members are on vacation in any given week.
The demographic of students who visit CAPS also shifts during the summer months.
Alexander said graduate students make up a larger proportion of CAPS visitors during the summer than they do during the school year, due to the fact graduate students remain on campus over break while many undergraduates return home.
For undergraduates who do not remain on campus for the summer, CAPS offers a referral process to connect students with mental health professionals in their own communities.
A dedicated referral coordinator tries to match students with trusted professionals who will also take students’ insurance. Alexander acknowledged that “sometimes [it’s] hard” to match insurance.
But for those students who stay on campus, CAPS continues to provide services.
“Not much really changes,” Alexander said.
Some would even say that services improve.
“I feel like [CAPS is] a lot better and a lot more available and flexible for students [during the summer]," Gonzales said.
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