A group of northwest students gathered to paint the rock during a rally Monday to advocate improved mental health support.
The participants sprayed the title and catchphrase of the organization “Reform CAPS” on the rock, which refers to counseling and psychological services. The surrounding wall shows the group’s Instagram handle @reformcapsnu and from a bird’s eye view reads: “We deserve better. Support our students. ”
The CAPS reform, founded at the end of April, called for the average waiting time to be shortened to three days and for various clinical employees to be hired. The group five big demands also request that CAPS publish data on student experience and policy processes and establish an accountability body.
CAPS is NU’s University-sponsored primary psychological care for graduates and students does not make any information such as waiting times or budget publicly available.
A sophomore student who co-organized the event said CAPS’s current operation is not meeting the needs of the students. They asked for anonymity for data protection and security reasons.
“CAPS isn’t out here painting the rock or talking to students on a daily basis. They don’t have that down-to-earth kind of support from the students, ”said the runner-up. “That’s really the goal of it – to build (support).”
They said that especially students with marginalized identities are underserved, even if they have increased mental health problems. The current CAPS staff do not reflect this need, while financially better off students may have better access to resources. Some of the positive statements on the group’s Instagram page might reflect this, they said.
New CAPS Executive Director Garrett Gilmer told The Daily in February that he understands the emotional and institutional barriers that keep students with marginalized identities from receiving positive psychiatric treatment.
A SESP newbie and co-organizer, who chose to remain anonymous for privacy reasons, said it was particularly harmful for students to contact CAPS with little information about when to get help. People seeking help are in a vulnerable place when they turn to CAPS, but she said she felt the institution treats students in need like liabilities rather than prioritizing their care.
“I had an experience with a friend of mine where we contacted CAPS several times (and didn’t get an appointment),” she said, “and this person ended up in the hospital.”
Reform CAPS was inspired by a similar movement at one of the NU’s peer institutions, whose efforts resulted in a reduced average wait of less than three days, the freshman said. Reform CAPS does not currently have access to waiting times, but from her experience she says that it often takes over a month for CAPS to receive a response.
However, she stressed that CAPS was understaffed and insufficiently supported, adding that the administration needed to work on reform and not overload the already overworked CAPS staff.
“I know (CAPS staff) are trying, and I know they probably have limited resources,” she said. “It’s probably really hard to work in this institution and not be able to help the students effectively.”
McCormick and Communications college student Sahibzada Mayed said CAPS reform had changed after his. turned to him Offer for the presidency in Associated Student Government.
Since then, Mayed has said he spoke with organizers about how to advocate for the mental health of students. Part of his motivation came from his own struggles with mental health while at NU, he said.
“The university really needs to recognize that CAPS is good, but CAPS could be better,” he said. “We also need this awareness at the administrative level and mobilize how (we) can improve it and actually act.”
While recognizing that some students have had good experiences with CAPS, Mayed said that there is a need to raise awareness that it has done a lot of harm to others as well.
Reform CAPS considered pushing the initiative after the painting of Rock last week in support of Palestinian human rights, despite the publication weeks in advance.
The anonymous communication in the second year said Reform CAPS ultimately decided to proceed with the painting and that the organization as a whole supports Palestinian human rights.
Although the initiative is pushing for tangible reforms, the sophomore is also interested in building long-term student communities and an awareness of mental health.
“You can say, ‘Oh, we’re waiting four years – you’ll be out of here,'” they said. “I want to build these communities of support that will last, and not rely on institutions to provide this because as much as they can, as much as they want, I cannot rely on them. I don’t think I can do that and that alone speaks volumes. “
Twitter: @ nick24francis