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Credit: Cindy Chen

Access to care from Penn’s Counseling and Psychological Services just got easier for Wharton undergraduate and graduate students.

Starting Nov. 6, CAPS will station a part-time clinician in Huntsman Hall in a new plan to improve mental health for Wharton students. Non-Wharton students will not be permitted access to the CAPS representative — licensed social worker and psychotherapist Courtney Hutchison — who was hired for this position.

CAPS Deputy Executive Director Meeta Kumar said that non-Wharton students will not necessarily be banned from Hutchison’s office, but that the position is not intended to serve students outside of Wharton. There is no protocol in place if non-Wharton students were to show up to her seeking care. Kumar said Hutchison would likely help students get the care they need, but would not help them herself.

"[Non-Wharton students who go to Hutchison] will be met and assessed and triaged appropriately," Kumar said. "Next steps will be determined based on what their needs are."

Courtney Hutchinson

This is the first time that undergraduate students will be able to seek CAPS care directly within their school, but there are no current plans to implement this embedded program in any other undergraduate schools, Kumar said. The model follows the philosophy of bringing care to students by stationing CAPS within their respective schools, rather than expecting the student to travel to CAPS.

Hutchison will be available in office G94 on the Locust side of Huntsman Hall between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, according to information provided by Wharton Associate Director of Media Relations Caroline Pennartz.

Appointments with Hutchison for brief interventions or consultations will be offered both on a walk-in basis and by scheduling in advance via email. 

The program was created by administrators and CAPS clinicians over the past two years, Director of Student Life in the Wharton Undergraduate Division Lee Kramer said. He added that the program is in its pilot phase until May 1 with hours of availability and types of service subject to change based on student response.

Similar to the feedback CAPS gathers in standard counseling sessions, Kumar said Hutchison will also collect basic data on the satisfaction and utilization of the program to inform possible changes. Kumar also anticipated CAPS would send a survey to the Wharton student body to gather feedback on the program.

Kramer added Hutchison specifically will be a good fit for Wharton given her history of working with MBAs to facilitate workshops.

“She understands the perspective of a business school student," Kramer said. "She may have some tips on how to de-stress during [on-campus recruiting] or how to manage OCR with academics and co-curriculars."

CAPS began experimenting with the embedded model in 2015 as a way to make CAPS care more accessible to students. After finding some success, CAPS hired four staff members in February 2017 to directly serve four graduate schools — the School of Veterinary Medicine, the School of Dental Medicine, the Perelman School of Medicine, and the Penn Law School.

This change follows the recent announcement that Huntsman Hall will close at 2 a.m. as part of an effort by Wharton to improve student wellness. This semester, Huntsman Hall also opened a new Mindfulness Space in the second floor Quiet Study Lounge.

Last spring, the Undergraduate Assembly gauged interest in potentially utilizing the embedded model for undergraduate students in on-campus buildings. The group administered a survey to gauge student interest, and initial responses showed that students thinkthe location of CAPS at 3624 Market St. is a barrier for students with busy schedules who do not have the time to walk that far from campus.

Credit: Wenting Sun

Kumar stressed that the new Wharton embedded model is not a replacement for CAPS, but rather "a CAPS extension into Huntsman Hall to just provide more access points for students."

"CAPS is really the central office here that has the larger capacity to support an array of student mental health needs," she added.

Following this year's pilot phase, the formal implementation of the Wharton embedded model will occur at the beginning of the 2019-2020 academic year.