WSU students say school isn’t providing enough mental health services
PULLMAN, Wash. — A lack of mental health services in times of need. That’s what several Washington State University students are sharing with KXLY4 News. Now, these students are making sure their voices are heard. Students have been complaining of long wait times to see a provider at the school’s counseling and psychological services office on-campus, also known as CAPS.
Some students said they’ve heard of people who have been put on months-long waitlists. KXLY4 News spoke with a some students who said not only did they have a bad experience with CAPS, they also have friends who no longer go to WSU because they couldn’t get the help they needed. KXLY4 News also spoke with the university which said, they’re listening and they’re working to improve.
“When you have a student coming to you saying like – they’re suicidal or they are extremely depressed and you don’t do anything about it, you give them a four-month waiting period. That’s scary,” said Maddy Lucas, current WSU student.
Students KXLY4 spoke to at WSU said they are not getting the mental health help they need and haven’t been for a while. Lucas said she has several friends who left the campus after not being able to find the resources they needed.
“They went to multiple people on-campus who essentially gave her no help, and so she had to leave,” Lucas said.
“I know that the wait times for people can be horrendous,” Lucas said.
Lucas said she’s heard of people waiting weeks – and even months – to talk to someone in the CAPS office.
“If you are in crisis that is too long to wait to be seen,” Lucas said.
She said once you do get in, CAPS makes everyone start the process over again when the semester ends.
“It’s hard enough to ask for help once. Let alone – again, and again, and again,” Lucas said.
“They said I’d have to go through the questionnaire again and if they have space available, they could get me in,” said Mackenzie Daschofsky, current WSU student. “But the chance they’d have space available is slim to none.”
Daschofsky was able to get in, but she said they don’t know how to handle a student in crisis.
“She said because I wasn’t suicidal they couldn’t help me and I needed to seek help elsewhere,” Daschofsky said.
She said her session with CAPS left her feeling discouraged, and also said it took her two years after that to seek help again.
“They really make you feel like if you’re not going to kill yourself then they can’t help you,” Daschofsky said.
KXLY4 News reached out to WSU, they said they’ve heard the complaints, and they started to make improvements to CAPS last year.
“What we’ve done over the last year is really try to divert some of our resources, to be able to make sure we had counselors and therapists available to take those folks that walk in off the street who say they’re experiencing some type of crisis situation,” said Phil Weiler, WSU spokesperson.
WSU started making changes last fall to try and meet the demands of students.
“We decided to change and say that we’re going to have people available throughout the course of the work day who can take those walk-ins,” Weiler said.
While the university’s been working on improving CAPS, Lucas said she’s been hopeful, but she hasn’t noticed a difference.
“Oh – if you need help go to CAPS. Well. They can’t see you. It’s bad to say, we can’t stop sending people there because they need help. But, we just send them there, and they don’t get help and so they just end up feeling worse,” Lucas said.
Students are hoping things will change, before tragedy happens in the community.
“It’s not fair to us to have to suffer quietly or get to the point where we end up ending our own lives as a result of feeling like we can’t get around this,” Daschofsky said.
According to WSU, by the end of fall semester last year, the average time spent on waiting lists for mental health services decreased from 37 days to nine days.
CAPS said its team also added more counselors for walk‑in cases. It reported a 23% drop in the number of students being asked to return at a later date compared to the same period last year.
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