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Friday, Mar 24, 2023

Students face long wait times for counseling services on campus

CAPS is located behind MEP. Photo by Peter Garcia.
CAPS is located behind MEP. Photo by Peter Garcia.

Some students have experienced long wait times and other challenges while trying to access services at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) since one of the counselors left Mercer in August.

Junior Bella Rama said she has been asked to wait weeks for an appointment.

“As someone with major depressive disorder, it is crucial for me to be able to get the help I need in a timely manner,” Rama said. “There have been multiple instances where I have to had to wait multiple weeks to get an appointment.”

Students should be able to access services as often as once per week, according to the CAPS page on Mercer University’s website.

Associate Dean for Student Services Stephen Brown said that CAPS is currently understaffed since a counselor, Brent Meyer, left at the beginning of this school year.

“In late August, a counselor who had worked at CAPS for over seven years announced his decision to focus full-time on his outside business,” Brown said.

Brown said that while Mercer wishes Meyer well, his departure left the CAPS office with some challenges in scheduling appointments for students in an efficient manner.

As such, there may be some wait time to see a counselor during the busy parts of the semester,” Brown said.

Not all students have been able to find times that work for them. One sophomore who did not want to reveal her name said that she saw Meyer at CAPS regularly last year, but this semester, she has not been able to schedule an appointment with another counselor.

“I tried to make an appointment this year and was left on hold by the receptionist, she’s new this year, for 15 minutes,” she said. “I had to go to class, so I gave up. Since I’ve called back twice and been put on hold for similar amounts of time, so I’ve yet to get an appointment this year.”

She said that she was not offered help in finding a new therapist or creating a new schedule after Meyer left Mercer.

“His patients were never told what to do or how to go about matching with another counselor,” she said. “I figured they would have hired another counselor by now, especially because some people are uncomfortable seeing a certain gender and as of now there are only females in the office.”

CAPS has hired two temporary, part-time therapists while they search for a new full-time replacement for Meyer, according to Brown’s email.

Rama said CAPS has been unable to provide the help she needed in other ways, too.

After being told to wait a week for an appointment during a rough patch last semester, she tried to access mental health resources on the CAPS website.

“There was nothing there except a blank page that stated the website was being ‘updated.’ It still hasn’t been updated, by the way,” she said. “The lack of resources provided and amount of time it takes to get an appointment is extremely disappointing.”

If the situation is an emergency, students are encouraged to tell CAPS when scheduling an appointment, as CAPS will move up appointments to accommodate these situations. CAPS can also refer students to off-campus services.


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