OPINION: 5C students deserve better mental health resources

Back view of a student looking at the MCAPS contact page on their laptop.

The Claremont Colleges promise to help students cultivate their overall wellness. Yet providing students with inadequate mental health resources isn’t exactly conducive to a well-supported student body. Especially given the circumstances surrounding being on campus during a global health crisis and the feelings of isolation and anxiety that can arise from it, it’s vital that 5C students are met with more comprehensive, uncapped mental health resources. 

While there are a variety of mental support services available at the 5Cs, most being consortium-wide, difficulties with accessing each resource can discourage students from seeking help at all. 

For instance, 7C Health, a mental health support and medical care service available to all 5C students provided as the main alternative to Student Health Services, initially seems promising. On-demand mental health support is available via the TimelyCare app, as well as appointment-based virtual therapy sessions that are free to all students. Yet, as with most resources on campus, there’s a catch — appointments are capped at twelve sessions. This spells bad news for students seeking to build a relationship with a mental health professional whom they can feel comfortable reaching out to throughout their time in Claremont.

Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services (MCAPS) is another mental health resource that provides free counseling to all students of the Claremont Colleges. Free counseling seems to be another promising resource, but exploring the MCAPS website reveals that currently, only “brief, goal-oriented” counseling is offered to students, and those who are in need of long-term support will be referred elsewhere. 

Another glaring issue surrounding mental health support on campus is the utter lack of in-person availability for students seeking help. Since our return to campus, students have experienced wait times that extend into weeks whilst seeking medical care at SHS. In-person support at SHS is extremely difficult to come by, and all other counseling services, including MCAPS and 7C Health, currently only operate virtually. Though SHS is working to meet current demands for treatment by hiring additional workers, the Claremont Colleges must do more to support these vital services, as students have been on campus for several weeks and are already feeling the rigor of college life. 

Again, the limitations associated with each resource on campus are especially troubling due to the circumstances that surround our return to in-person learning. Struggles in classroom environments, difficulties connecting socially with our peers, and feelings of emotional fatigue and exhaustion are all being experienced by 5C students as we adjust to a pandemic-oriented campus environment. 

These special circumstances mean that students should be offered the very best mental health support possible, not a variety of restrictive resources. In order to fulfill their promise of cultivating student wellness, the Claremont Colleges should offer students an unlimited number of counseling sessions with a professional whom they can trust and build a connection with. While staffing is obviously a concern, the needs of students in this unprecedented campus environment and circumstances are too important to ignore.

Additionally, while COVID-19 concerns should be taken very seriously, 5C students deserve more access to in-person resources. While the Claremont Colleges allow for in-person teaching, dining and even partying, it seems rather senseless to disallow students who prefer in-person mental health support from receiving it simply due to a lack of offerings. 

The addition of an uncapped number of counseling opportunities for students, as well as the option of in-person treatment for those who may benefit, would help foster a happier and healthier student body. The Claremont Colleges claim to place significant value upon the wellness of students, so it’s time they rise to the occasion and deliver for students in these difficult times.

Nicholas Black PO ’24 is from Rochester, New York. Besides TSL, his creative outlet is Yik Yak. 

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