CAPS must take initiative to gain student feedback

It’s no secret that Carnegie Mellon has developed a reputation for having a culture of stress. As a result, many students find the need to seek out additional support for their mental health, especially at a high-stress time like the approaching finals period. Carnegie Mellon’s own Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has come under scrutiny for what some students suggest are ineffective methods for scheduling appointments to see counselors.

In a high-stress campus culture like Carnegie Mellon’s, having convenient and effective mental health support is necessary. CAPS can serve this campus better by taking two key actions: first, implementing an online scheduling system for scheduling both diagnostic and regular appointments, and second, reaching out to students to get their ideas for improving their services.

Academic departments, such as the economics, engineering, and public policy departments already have online scheduling systems in place for their advisers. Students can visit a webpage and see blocks of time available for meetings on their advisers’ calendars. By selecting a block and entering their Andrew ID, students can schedule a time to meet and discuss their academic situation. The same option should be available for students to discuss their mental well-being. The current CAPS intake process involves a questionnaire, which the service can easily integrate into an online framework to make psychological services more readily available.

To better gauge campus needs, CAPS should implement an easy way to collect student thoughts about the service, possibly by requesting feedback or providing online surveys after appointments. A survey is a highly visible way for CAPS to show the student body that it cares about their individual needs.

Alternatively, CAPS could create an anonymous online suggestion box to accompany an online scheduling system. These initiatives would allow CAPS to easily build trust, which may not fully exist now, with students on campus. CAPS can benefit as an organization and better serve the needs of our community by welcoming feedback and suggestions from students.

Carnegie Mellon must support its students by providing convenient care to ensure that their mental health remains optimal at all times of the year. By implementing an online scheduling system and reaching out for student feedback, CAPS can become a resource to help the campus truly thrive.