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New Staff, Outreach Efforts Expand Accessibility for CAPS Services

CAPS staff meeting with students at an outdoor event

As part of a campus-wide investment in well-being, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is increasing accessibility to mental health resources available to Purdue students.

With support from the Action Council on Student Housing and Wellbeing founded by Purdue President Mung Chiang, CAPS has increased staff in many areas. The new staff members improve CAPS’ staff-to-student ratio to those recommended by the International Accreditation of Counseling Services. Over the past three years, CAPS has doubled the size of its high-risk team and added a psychiatric provider and nurse as part of its expanded staffing capacity.

CAPS has also added specialized coordinator positions, including staff who concentrate in dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and therapy for students with eating disorders. Positions such as these help CAPS to better serve the specific and diverse needs of Purdue students while continuing to maintain same day/next day access for any student seeking services. 

“We have received support to grow and serve students better,” says Chris Hanes, director of CAPS. “More students are coming in with different types of needs. We’re creating multiple, flexible and accessible ways for students to connect with us and match services to student needs.” 

The increased staffing is part of CAPS’ efforts to enhance its services over the last several years, which also include new flexible and accessible services, and expanded campus-based prevention programming and partnerships.

Staff growth has allowed CAPS to increase outreach efforts. As part of these efforts, CAPS clinicians are regularly available to speak with students informally in several of the cultural centers on campus. Clinicians work with the cultural centers to determine the best type of interaction to serve students.

“Outreach in cultural centers allows clinicians to have conversations about mental health and well-being with students in a non-clinical way,” Hanes says. “As a result of this outreach, conversations about well-being are being held in culturally inclusive, relevant and affirming ways for students of different backgrounds.”

Further enhancing CAPS’ efforts to offer culturally inclusive care are clinicians who can offer services in languages other than English, including Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Dutch and Thai. Holding conversations in a native language can help break down cultural barriers and enhance care for international students, who make up about 25 percent of CAPS’ clientele.

“Conversations about mental health and well-being can be more impactful when held in a student’s native language,” Hanes says. “There may be culturally sensitive topics and unique pressures students feel more comfortable discussing in this way.”

CAPS’ commitment to flexible and accessible services also now includes the ability for students to self-enroll in workshops without completing a brief screening. CAPS offers seven free weekly skills-based workshops, which any Purdue student can self-enroll in with no wait. These workshops, covering topics such as anxiety and developing inner calm, provide students with the knowledge and coping skills to manage current concerns and build life-long skills. A new offering this fall involves the use of art and creativity to promote self-care. To register, students fill out a brief survey to receive a link to RSVP.

Now entering its second year, Let’s Talk is another resource available to students at no cost. Let’s Talk are drop-in sessions where students can walk in and talk to a counselor for 15 minutes. Sessions are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Let’s Talk sessions are available at the following times and locations: 

  • Hicks Undergraduate Library, LGBTQ Center Conference Room: Tuesdays, 12 – 2 p.m.
  • Graduate Student Center, Room 112: Wednesdays, 12 – 2 p.m.
  • Krach Leadership Center, Room 238: Fridays, 12 – 2 p.m. 

“Let’s Talk is an opportunity for students to have a brief conversation to obtain support for a specific concern,” Hanes says. “Clinicians can then make recommendations for a course of action and recommend resources based on their conversation with the student.”

TAO logoCAPS has recently made Therapy Assistance Online (TAO), a new web and app-based mental health resource, available to all students, faculty and staff on the West Lafayette campus. TAO is a self-guided program informed by psychotherapy research and strategies that provide assistance to help overcome anxiety, depression and other concerns. Visit this page to learn more about TAO.

“Everyone on campus can benefit from this,” Hanes says. “TAO gives our community a wealth of resources they can refer to students while simultaneously giving students a variety of tools for self-help. Students can access the app at their convenience and complete exercises, reflect, track moods, journal and more.” 

Through a partnership with Purdue Online, CAPS is also now offering online treatment services to all Purdue Online students through UWill, a third-party telehealth option for students seeking services. Purdue Online students can connect with CAPS through a brief screening and then receive support through UWill, which can include an appointment with a licensed therapist. This resource will also be available to Purdue West Lafayette students when appropriate and referred by CAPS.

CAPS’ expansion of outreach and campus engagement helps provide support and resources for the entire campus community. Programs now coordinated by CAPS include QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) suicide prevention programming, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Boilermaker Support Network (BSN). These new efforts help integrate these resources within the mental health services on campus and enhance connections. 

CAPS continues to offer same day/next day services for any student seeking care with no predefined session limits and most services are free. Treatment services are brief and based on need. CAPS also offers 24/7 access to crisis services by calling their main line at (765) 494-6995.  

Purdue Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is a team of mental health professionals who deliver accessible, culturally competent and high-quality psychological services to Purdue students. CAPS helps Purdue students maximize the value of their life experiences by developing collaborative relationships in a safe and respectful environment. CAPS’ portfolio of professional services includes individual, group and couples' psychotherapy; psychopharmacology; crisis intervention; drug and alcohol programs; outreach and consultation; and the training of helping professionals.  

Written by: Matthew Vader, Writer, Student Life Marketing