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Princeton enhances mental health resources, building on long-term commitment to student well-being

Emily Aronson, Office of Communications | Fri Nov 18, 2022

Princeton has begun implementing enhancements to its mental health and well-being resources, in line with recommendations from a summer working group of leaders from campus life, health services and student government.

The expansion of mental health resources includes:

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) will hire the equivalent of two new, full-time counselors to increase access to mental health care on campus.
  • The CPS Cares Line will launch on Nov. 21 to provide students with 24/7 access to a counselor by phone. CPS will continue to provide same-day, in-person services through urgent care  for students who prefer to meet with a counselor in person.
  • CPS will offer extended initial consultations so students can have more of their needs met during their first appointment. This change will go into effect by the end of the semester.

Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun said the University’s goal is to support student well-being in a comprehensive, holistic and inclusive manner. She said part of this work includes cultivating stronger connections among groups across campus with events like the recent Community of Care Breakfast for students, faculty and staff.

“We are continually reviewing our programs and evaluating where new approaches or services may be needed,” Calhoun said.

Last summer, representatives from the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life (VPCL) and University Health Services (UHS) collaborated with the Undergraduate Student Government to review current mental health resources and explore ways to improve access to and awareness about mental health resources on campus and beyond.

Other recommendations from the student-staff working group are in progress, including further enhancements to CPS services and staff, funding for transportation to mental health services off campus, and the enhancement of mental health and crisis response resources based in the residential colleges.

These actions build on more than a decade of work to expand mental health and wellness programs, services, staff and funding to support undergraduate and graduate students. Resources are offered through UHS, VPCL, Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, the Graduate School, Office of Religious Life, residential colleges and many other departments.

“At Princeton, we aspire to make sure that a health and well-being mindset is embedded into all that we do so that our students continue to embrace their potential and thrive,” University Health Services Executive Director John Kolligian said. “We have made progress and more needs to be done for us to achieve our goals as a health-promoting University.”

As colleges and universities across the country experience an increase in the number of students seeking mental health care following the COVID-19 pandemic, Princeton has also worked to enhance its support systems for undergraduate and graduate students.

“Research has shown that the mental health of everyone, and especially young adults, has worsened significantly as a result of the pandemic,” CPS Director Calvin Chin said. “My colleagues at other Ivy institutions are managing similar increases in demand that we are seeing at Princeton.”

Chin said CPS has increased staffing over the past several years, even before the pandemic, and has launched several initiatives to increase access to mental health services, including University funding to assist students paying for mental health treatment.

Previous enhancements of counseling resources include:

  • The establishment of the Exclusive Provider Network, which is made up of over 200 therapists in the community who accept the Student Health Plan and charge students a $20 co-pay with no deductibles, to increase access for students who needed ongoing treatment.
  • The creation of TigerWell Outreach Counselors, who provide drop-in counseling services around campus, making it easier for students to connect with counselors outside of McCosh Health Center.

University Health Services also offers a range of educational and support programs through its Health Promotion and Prevention Services, including the UMatter bystander intervention program, the Peer Health Advisers, and the TigerWell initiative. TigerWell engages staff, faculty, undergraduate and graduate student partners in promoting proactive and innovative approaches to health and well-being.

“We want to support our students in all aspects of their life,” President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in a recent interview with the Daily Princetonian about mental health and other topics.

Eisgruber said there are many programs and staff focused on supporting students as they deal with personal challenges and difficult events. He also noted: “All of us have felt deeply the losses that have occurred on this campus over the past year. One of the strengths we have as a campus is our ability to respond personally and communally to those losses.”

The University offers many staff that students can turn to for help. This fall, the first cohort of residential life coordinators (RLCs) moved into the residential colleges to support and promote the health, safety and well-being of students in each residential college. Reporting to the assistant deans for student life and working with the residential college advisers, the RLCs are readily available to respond to crises and urgent situations.

“Princeton is blessed with the ability to literally surround its students with many, many caring adult figures — faculty, chaplains, coaches, residential life staff, administrators of every kind,” said the Rev. Alison Boden, dean of religious life and the Chapel. “Compared to the general population of young people we actually have extraordinary amounts of support. This doesn’t mean that our students are at lesser risk for mental health challenges, but it does mean that we are better prepared to help them.”

Other mental health and wellness resources include, but are not limited to:

In addition to campus resources for students, faculty and staff who need support may speak to independent counselors by calling Carebridge at 800-437-0911 or by scheduling in-person counseling online at the Employee Wellness Center at 350 Alexander Street.