The University of Michigan’s Counseling and Psychological Services is expanding its efforts to add counselors working within individual schools and colleges on the Ann Arbor campus.
The program — now in its third year — will place four new counselors for a total of 11 staff within 11 schools and colleges by August under the embedded model. The program was developed in 2014 in response to a growing number of students seeking mental health services and placed clinicians directly inside eight schools and colleges.
“U-M has become one of the leaders in the country for this new way of delivering mental health services for students,” says CAPS Director Todd Sevig. “It seems to be the best of both worlds for students — localized expertise within a school or college, yet within a centralized context and approach to help with consistency and continuity.”
CAPS is the main unit on campus responsible for providing student mental health services. The center provides confidential psychological and psychiatric services for the U-M community.
A comprehensive evaluation conducted after the first two years of the embedded counselor program supports the effectiveness of the model, Sevig adds.
A faculty and staff survey, as well as a student survey, was conducted in January 2016 and showed that the majority of respondents were aware of the embedded counselor in their schools and colleges and that students are able to work with them.
Before this program, all students seeking mental health services needed to visit the Central Campus CAPS office to see a counselor. Students still are welcome at the CAPS Central Campus location in the Michigan Union, but now have an added option.
“There are three advantages to this model for our campus: First, the CAPS staff members become experts on the culture of each embedded site, where that expertise deeply informs the clinical work and the prevention and education work; second, services are more accessible to students; and third, the CAPS staff support efforts such as wellness weeks, faculty consulting, programming and more within each school or college to further support student mental health,” Sevig says.
According to the 2015-16 CAPS annual report, student requests for mental health services have increased by 25 percent since 2011.
Sevig noted that having staff down the hall from students instead of across campus enables counselors to be more aware of the students’ individual needs. Counselors can tailor programs, supports, events and more to a school or college based on the unique needs of that community through weekly drop-in hours and appointments.
“Having an embedded counselor has been a fantastic resource for students and staff,” according to a faculty comment from a survey distributed among faculty and staff in participating schools and colleges. “As an adviser who works with students and often refers students to CAPS, having someone nearby, who has gotten to know the student community and common issues/concerns has been a great help.”
As a result, the report shows that shorter wait times and increased access enhance early intervention efforts and improve outcomes.
Eight schools and colleges currently part of the Embedded Model include the College of Engineering, the Law School, the Rackham Graduate School, the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, the School of Dentistry, the Stamps School of Art & Design, the Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, and the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
The program will expand to include the School of Social Work, the College of Pharmacy, the Comprehensive Studies Program in LSA and a second staff member in CoE.
The program evaluation and report was published in January 2017 and led by Allison Asarch, a former postdoctoral fellow at CAPS and now a staff member at the University of Maryland counseling center.