It took me over 10 years to decide to get help for my anxiety, and I figured CAPS would be a great resource…
Around September 2015, my anxiety was at an all time high. I saw CAPS being advertised everywhere all over campus, and decided to schedule a psychological screening. I had to wait a whole week for this short phone screening. Every single day living with panic attacks and anxiety was taking a toll on me, and I was shaking on the phone with them even asking for help to begin with. The thought of waiting another whole week was unbearable, but I knew I had to do it.
A week passed, and I finally got the phone call I had been waiting for. The nurse asked me several questions regarding my anxiety. I was expecting to be told afterwords that I could then set up an appointment for counseling. However, I was shocked when the nurse told me that there was a huge demand for appointments. She said she would put me on a waiting list. I asked why they couldn’t take me right away, to which the nurse scoffed and said:
“Your case isn’t considered urgent.”
This statement was appalling to me. Yes, to the University maybe I’m just one student who needs CAPS, but to me, my case was urgent. They refused me help because I wasn’t suicidal, and did not have extreme depressive thoughts. How could they judge me by one single phone call if I deserved to be seen immediately or not? Through a phone screening, they could not see that I cried myself to sleep nightly, that I could barely get out of bed in the morning, and that I would avoid seeing my friends throughout the day because they would see I was a wreck.
However; I did not have a choice, so I agreed to go on the waiting list…
CAPS suggested that I call a local State College psychologist since they might be able to see me sooner. I called all of them covered by my insurance, and all of them were fully booked for months. I proceeded to call all of those who weren’t even covered, and they were full to the brim as well. Here I was, promised help by all these CAPS flyers, yet refused help.
Weeks passed, and my anxiety had gotten so bad that I would just sit in my dorm room and cry because the thought of going to classes simply seemed too hard and stressful.
Fast forward to December and my anxiety had drastically improved on its own. At the beginning of January, I got a phone call from CAPS. They told me I made it off the waiting list (4 months later), and they scheduled my appointment for that Monday at 8:30 a.m. I asked if I could schedule it for when I did not have classes, and they told me if I wanted to re-schedule I would go right back on the waiting list. CAPS was as impersonal, non-empathetic and heartless as it could get, and I took the appointment anyway.
That Monday rolled around, and I really felt I didn’t need the help anymore. They had already made me wait for months, and by the time they got to my unimportant case, things had gotten better. My anxiety has its ups and downs, and UHS/CAPS is not properly equipped to take cases like mine — I can’t predict when I’ll need their help. Luckily, my anxiety is better than it has ever been, and I’m hoping it continues. However, I know that I cannot depend on CAPS if I ever need their services again.
Mental health has clearly been a huge topic in the past few years for students. It angers me that the University could just brush over my case and that I was just a number to them. CAPS is great in theory, but it is purely unacceptable that they would handle anyone’s case like they handled mine. I continue to see CAPS flyers everywhere, but why advertise for services they can’t provide? I urge the University to address the demand issues with CAPS; we need to change the system so no struggling student is ignored.
[Editor’s note: The student who submitted this asked to remain anonymous.]