The new Counseling and Psychiatric Services, or CAPS, program provided by MSU is still in need of a permanent director.
According the the CAPS website, the services, which are located on the third floor of Olin Health Center, combine the former MSU counseling center and the Olin Psychiatry Clinic. ASMSU and the Council of Graduate Students, or COGS, worked with the university to bring this program together.
ASMSU President Lorenzo Santavicca described the previous layout of mental health services at MSU.
“Historically before this year, the two services that students would go to — and just to clarify is that counseling was mostly social workers, and they were not prescribing medicine for health, psychiatrists do," Santavicca said. "So what the new program here at Michigan State has done has brought the two together so that counseling and psychiatric services, CAPS, would be under the same roof.”
Santavicca said he believes the primary reason behind difficulties finding a permanent director of CAPS is because of the old counseling service's reputation.
“There’s a variety of factors that I think are the reason we don’t have a director in this position just yet," Santavicca said. "This is largely because of the climate that’s surrounded Michigan State. I think this is the climate that surrounded the overall counseling services … I think this is ultimately the change that we’re seeing, and people are a little bit nervous about the direction is going.”
Since CAPS' birth, Dr. David Weismantel has served as the interim director of CAPS. Weismantel also is the interim executive director of student health and wellness. He commented on the status of the search for a permanent director via an email interview.
"A search committee for the Inaugural Director of CAPS was convened in the spring of 2017 and continues under the leadership of Dr. Karen Klomparens," Weismantel said. "The process is aided by an executive search firm – Keeling & Associates. We are actively engaged in the process of building a pool of qualified applicants with significant emphasis on the unique opportunity for a dynamic director to lead this important initiative."
Santavicca commented on Weismantel's job duties.
“What the interim director’s really doing is making sure the day to day operations are flowing, making sure things are happening, and recruiting people for the open positions," Santavicca said.
In spite of open positions that need to be filled, Wiesmantel said that CAPS does have plans to institute more resources for students.
"In collaboration with REHS, we are currently embedding two masters-level counselors in the neighborhoods – one each in the south and east neighborhoods," Weismantel wrote. "These counselors will be able to provide initial intake assessments, perform brief counseling, lead educational efforts, and collaborate with REHS in the promotion of a healthy living and learning environment."
Weismantel also added that CAPS is looking into new technological services.
"And we are currently investigating the addition of ProtoCall, a service offering telephonic support with Masters-level clinical professionals responding to students after hours and providing support, crisis assessment, intervention immediate and stabilization," Weismantel said.
Santavicca believes the program will still run into bumps until a permanent director is in place.
“We are still struggling to see that there is permanent leadership in the position of director for CAPS, and really this is important for us as students to recognize because we’re still going to face challenges with this program, this new implementation, until they have a permanent director,” Santavicca said.
Santavicca said finding a director would show that MSU's atmosphere towards mental health issues is changing.
“So, the new director really is critical for us to see somebody sitting in that position, actively recruiting people, telling people what this CAPS program is really about out here at Michigan State, and really giving directions about what we’re looking for on this campus,” Santavicca said.
Santavicca also said that work needs to be done on campus in the mean time in order to convince qualified individuals to apply for this position.
“So, there is someone who will confidently apply for the position of director, it’s really about the variety of factors people are reading about Michigan State or maybe have heard about Michigan State in the past," Santavicca said. "We have to do something to symbolically show outside candidates that we are changing as an institution in the realm of behavioral health."
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