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Meeta Kumar PhD crop
Courtesy of Meeta Kumar

Welcome back, Quakers! I hope all of you had a wonderful summer. 

I am writing to introduce myself in my new role as deputy executive director at Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS. I have a long association with Penn. I earned my Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Penn’s Graduate School of Education and have worked at Penn ever since for almost two decades — so I retain a keen sense of what it means to be a student on this competitive campus. As a former international student, I also know a lot about the challenges of transitioning to a new and unfamiliar environment. Through various roles at CAPS, I have had the privilege to work closely with various Penn communities over the years to support the mental health of our students. 

I write today also to introduce significant procedural changes at CAPS designed to make it easier, and less stressful, for students to access clinical support 24/7. We know the frustration you’ve experienced as demand grows for CAPS services. We listened to student concerns and dramatically streamlined our entry process. Our goal: reduce wait times, eliminate barriers to care, and improve the experience for our diverse undergraduate, graduate, and professional student body. 

These important changes include being able to talk to a clinician 24/7 by phone. At night and weekends, call (215) 898-7021 to connect immediately with a clinician for a brief intervention about a pressing concern. During business hours, call 215-898-7021 and press "1" to speak immediately to a clinician to share concern and determine next steps for support. If you need to make an appointment, you can do so during this call.

Schedule appointments conveniently during business hours by calling CAPS and pressing "2." Make an appointment for common concerns such as academic or relationship stress, low mood, anxiety, or concern for a friend. Specialty appointment options can be reviewed with the front desk. 

Drop-in/walk-in to CAPS during business hours if you want to meet with CAPS staff immediately or to schedule an appointment with the front desk. CAPS hours are: Monday and Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and starting on Sept. 8, Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

We are excited about rolling out these changes as a pilot plan for the upcoming year and look forward to your feedback. Please share your thoughts — anonymously or with your name — via our website:

Please remember that reaching out to CAPS — for yourself or a friend — is a sign of strength! CAPS offers multiple avenues to receiving therapeutic care — one time consultation, short term individual counseling, group counseling, medication, drop-in workshops, and referrals to specialists in the community. 

Your mental health is an important part of your holistic wellness and success in life. It is an honor to be a part of your Penn journey and we look forward to supporting you. 

MEETA KUMAR is the new deputy executive director of Counseling and Psychological Services.