Monsour’s return to campus brings mix of in-person, virtual offerings and continued access issues

A door with a sign reading "Monsour".
Students continue to struggle with Monsour’s appointment-making protocol. (Emma Jensen • The Student Life)

Struggling with a history of protracted backlogs and other issues raised by students, Monsour Counseling and Psychiatric Services is taking steps this semester to shorten wait times, offer higher-quality service and adapt to virtual telehealth services.

Monsour is open, according to its website, but it’s “primarily offering virtual services in order to protect the safety of the 7C community, and to be able to see one another’s facial expressions unmasked, for optimal therapeutic benefit.” Its physical office is also staffed and open to students, and staff will be available for “in-person crisis sessions when necessary.”

5C students also have access to 7C Health, which provides 24/7 medical and behavioral telehealth care for 7C students, at no cost. The service also offers up to “12 ongoing therapy appointments for the academic year,” according to Monsour.

“MCAPS offers a wide range of counseling and psychological services to students at The Claremont Colleges,” The Claremont Colleges Services spokesperson Laura Muna-Landa said in an email. “In the event of a crisis, MCAPS has a therapist on-call 24/7 for students. On average (pre-pandemic), MCAPS saw approximately 1,339 students over 6,693 appointments.”

According to Muna-Landa, MCAPS has also hired new staff and is continuing to hire additional staff. 

Monsour says that it will offer students a brief initial assessment “in order to improve equity and timeliness of access to mental health services.” 

“Every student at The Claremont Colleges requesting MCAPS services will be seen for a virtual, brief 20-25 minute appointment within a few days,” its website states.

Still, Muna-Landa said the wait time for an initial appointment is currently two weeks.

Based on recommendations from an external review it undertook in fall 2019, Monsour also scrapped its session limit, which capped students’ appointments per semester, last year. 

The center is also offering drop-in consultation sessions targeted towards Chicana/o and Latina/o students, Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American students and athletes. 

But despite these reforms, students continue to encounter trouble getting appointments and seeking mental health help.

Eben Sanchez PO ’25 began his journey with Monsour in late August, when staff at Chicano Latino Student Affairs directed him to the service for mental health support.

“I remember that when I tried to get counseling in September, the wait was about a month and a half,” he said.

Sanchez’s sessions with MCAPS occur on a weekly basis. His sessions are virtual — posted on his door is a piece of wide ruled paper that reads, “In Therapy, Please Do Not Disturb.”

“At the end of every session I have to schedule the next session. It’s whenever they’re available, so sometimes the day changes or the time changes,” Sanchez said.

Since October, he added, he hasn’t had problems with scheduling. “But I feel like I’ve gotten lucky with that because it is very much an appointment-by-appointment thing,” he said.

Anjali Karp PO ’25 has also run into issues booking appointments with Monsour this semester. 

For Karp, the availability of mental health resources was a defining part of her college research process.

“I remember I asked the rep who came to my school about what their mental health resources were, and he talked about Monsour,” Karp said. “It’s something that’s very important to me”.

But when she tried to access its services, Karp said the process of booking appointments was “frustrating.”

During the first week of October, Karp called Monsour, but received no answer. On Oct. 4 she received a voicemail from Monsour stating that they were returning her call. Her appointment to see a psychiatrist would be scheduled for Oct. 28, about three weeks after her initial point of contact.

“I have had more time-sensitive interactions with Monsour and the help that I was able to get through those interactions would have been more helpful if I had gotten it in a more timely manner,” Karp said. “It just took a while and even though the people I ended up talking to were professionals in their field doing their best, it can only do so much when you’ve had to wait for as long as you have to wait.”

Though Karp stated that she already has access to a counselor, she still needed to see a psychiatrist in order to pursue a change in her medication.

“I didn’t need counseling services … I had a referral from my counselor to seek change in medication, so I needed to see a psychiatrist or a nurse practitioner or someone who was able to write scripts in California,” Karp said.

 

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