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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, June 22, 2024

CMHS keeps up with pandemic demand, brings on additional providers

Sawyer House, the location of Tufts Counseling and Mental Health Services, is pictured.

Amid a nationwide college mental health crisis, Tufts Counseling and Mental Health Services reports that students are being scheduled to see counselors in a timely fashion, aided in part by the addition of two counselors from outside provider Mantra Health. 

"CMHS counselors are aware of the challenges of being a college student during the pandemic and in the current racial, environmental, and political climate in the U.S. and the world," Julie Jampel, CMHS director of training and continuing education director, wrote in an email to the Daily. "We want to be there for the students who want to speak with us and welcome our colleagues from Mantra Health to help meet this ​need."

Jampel said that first appointments with clinicians are currently being scheduled for the following week, a timeline that is typical for CMHS. During particularly busy periods, such as around midterms, appointments may need to be scheduled for a few weeks out. 

Jampel also said that there is no difference in the quality of mental health services offered by the Mantra Health clinicians currently employed by CMHS.

"All clinicians are highly skilled, licensed mental health professionals and are experienced in working with college students," Jampel wrote. "Like CMHS counselors, counselors from Mantra Health provide therapy within short term treatment models and are familiar with all on-campus resources, including Tufts Deans, the Centers within the Division of Student Diversity and Inclusion, and the StAAR Center, among other resources and offices at Tufts."

Daniel Schwartz, a sophomore, has called to schedule an appointment with CMHS twice in the past year. The first time, in December,he was able to schedule an appointment with a Mantra Health provider 11 days after his call. 

"I think by the end of the semester, there was a lot of demand, and it was pretty crowded," Schwartz said. "It was a little unfortunate because it was when I needed it the most."

Schwartz called a second time over winter break and was able to get an appointment for the next day.

Jampel said that CMHS always keeps a set number of appointments open for same-day scheduling. 

"A limited number of same day appointments are available to students who need one and can be scheduled by calling CMHS first thing in the morning,"she wrote. "Students with urgent situations or crises will always be seen the same day."

Schwartz said that securing one of the same-day appointments during busy periods seemed difficult

"You have to be one of the first callers when they first open, which isn't the most convenient," he said. 

Theresa Quinto, a sophomore, decided to reach out to CMHS last spring. She had heard that demand had been high and that appointments were difficult to get in the fall, which made her initially hesitant to seek an appointment. 

However, after talking to her resident assistant about options for mental health care on campus, she decided to call CMHS. She found the entire process to be user-friendly and appreciated having a list of different providers to familiarize herself with. 

"I thought the website that lists all of the counselors there … was very welcoming," Quinto said. "The people that answered the phone were so nice. Just their tone of voice [made me think] 'You know what, this is okay … I feel okay.'"  

Quinto was able to schedule an appointment for a week or two  after her call, and her only request was to be paired with a female-identifying counselor.Quinto was very satisfied with the counselor she met with and appreciated her help with finding more long-term therapy options

"After the first appointment, it was super easy to book more with the same person,"Quinto said

In recent years, CMHS has seen a higher number of students accessing its services. Jampel said that this shift has been observed at many colleges and attributes it to both current events and the destigmatization of seeking mental health treatment. 

"Students are living in and attending college in very difficult times, including a long-standing pandemic that has brought isolation, loss, and economic hardship to many people," she wrote. "Also, at Tufts the visibility and accessibility of CMHS has increased over the years, and at the same time, the stigma around needing or accessing mental health care has decreased. Information about and discussions of mental health have proliferated in the media and social media. Public figures--including highly respected athletes from the summer and winter Olympics--have shared their struggles with mental health conditions and have made it easier for everyone to seek the support and care they need."

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