The Student Fees Advisory Committee recently released its recommendations for fiscal year 2017 and approved the Counseling and Psychological Services base augmentation request of $153,509 that the center said would be used to hire two licensed clinicians.
With the base augmentation, in addition to the base request of $1,654,373, CAPS said in its presentation to the committee earlier in October that it planned to hire a psychological counselor and a psychologist to help its current staff to student ratio of one to 3,259. The current International Association of Counseling Services recommended staff to student ratio is one to 1,500.
“The changing composition of the University of Houston mandates a continued investment in our mental health programs,” the report said. “The committee views the well-being of University of Houston students as a touchstone priority, and we wholeheartedly embrace the imperative role fulfilled by CAPS in achieving student health and well-being.”
CAPS Associate Director Christopher Scott said hiring of new counselors has become even more imperative with UH’s rising on-campus residency.
“The student service needs of residential campuses are far greater than those on commuter campuses and there has been significant increase in demand from our students for mental health services,” Scott said.
Scott said CAPS appreciates the generous support it has received from the student body, and he hopes CAPS will continue receiving this support to steadily grow the center and be better able to address the needs of the campus.
“With these funds we will hire more staff,” Scott said. “Our hope is that we can keep up with increasing demand and help us better manage wait time for students to receive counseling services during our busiest times of the year.”
Looking to the future, CAPS aims to eventually have 28 full-time clinicians — in contrast to the 13 current licensed full-time clinicians — in order to meet the recommendations of the IACS and serve the University’s ever-growing student body. However, once this gap is closed, CAPS will still need to find adequate office space for the new staff.
“We hope to be able to acquire and renovate additional space within the next year to accommodate newly hired clinicians,” Scott said. “Currently, there are no SFAC funds specifically allocated to build a new facility or for CAPS to acquire interim office space.”
Scott said CAPS has already obtained and begun renovations on an interim office space on the third floor of the Student Service Center 1 building.
Concluding the CAPS section of SFAC’s report, the report said that the committee, “hope(s) the University continues to prioritize this essential department.”