CU-Boulder has unified two departments which both provide mental health services on campus: Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Psychological Health and Psychiatry (PHP). The new department, which is now part of Wardenburg Health Services, has transitioned to the new name, Counseling and Psychiatric Services, and will continue to use the CAPS acronym.
Donald Misch, senior assistant vice chancellor for health and wellness and executive director of Wardenburg Health Services, says the merger is intended to increase student access to mental health services and enable more students to take advantage of these resources on campus.
"CAPS and PHP offered a broad and complementary set of services that met different campus needs for mental health services," explains Misch.
Misch says that CAPS and PHP have long had much in common, although in certain aspects the two units’ foci and philosophy differ. While both provide individual, couples and group psychotherapy, PHP employs a more traditional medical model for treating a student’s symptoms, which may include psychological assessment, short- and long-term psychotherapy, and medication management. CAPS has traditionally focused on short-term psychotherapy as well as on a community psychology model that addresses the health and wellness of the entire campus community through outreach and prevention services and mental health promotion.
Same services, better streamlined
Misch hopes one fully integrated unit will combine the best aspects from both departments into one.
"From the students’ perspective, we’re really just streamlining how people access mental health services," says Misch. "On our end, however, this will create opportunities for the professionals working in these two offices to work in even better concert with one another, deeply aware of each other’s roles and how they all work together to meet a need for campus."
The newly merged CAPS department will continue to operate out of the same two locations (the Center for Community and Wardenburg Health Center), and all students will be eligible to receive up to six free mental visits which can be accessed at either location. Additional visits beyond the initial six are covered for students enrolled in the Student Gold Health Insurance Plan, and students with their own non-university health insurance can continue their care on a fee-for-service basis.
Under the old model, CAPS has always been free to students for up to six visits, and PHP has historically been a health insurance-based model. To pay for the newly added universal access to treatment, the university introduced a new student fee of $21 per semester starting this academic year, which was approved by the Board of Regents on March 30.
Misch says that he hopes that expanding student’s access to more healthcare providers and specialized services will lead to more students taking advantage of the mental health services available to them.
"The whole point of this is to make it easier for students to access services when they need them, and to improve the overall health and wellness of our campus community."