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News, University News

Director of Counseling and Psychological Services steps down

Will Meek oversaw a “major transformation” of the center including shorter wait times and a multicultural perspective on mental health

By
Metro Editor
Monday, November 2, 2020

After his three and a half year tenure as director of University CAPS, Will Meek is stepping down to serve as Global Director of Mental Health and Wellness at Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute.

Director of Counseling and Psychological Services Will Meek stepped down Oct. 27 after three and a half years in the position, he announced in a Herald letter to the editor. 

Meek will depart his position at the University to serve as Global Director of Mental Health and Wellness at Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute. He is also starting a private practice in Providence.

News of Meek’s departure comes at a time when University students are grappling with mental health concerns amid the pandemic’s social and economic consequences, as well as the continued uncertainty about their educational experience and post-college careers. Young adults nationwide are experiencing rising levels of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, according to findings reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In recent weeks, students and on-campus groups have shared their concerns about CAPS’ operations, citing unclear telehealth regulations, an inability for first-years to access therapy appointments and a lack of emphasis on the mental health impacts of COVID-19 in University messaging.

“There’s never a good time to leave a position like this, and this certainly isn’t one,” Meek wrote to The Herald. But he remains confident that the remaining teams are set up for success. 

In the interim, Vanessa Britto, associate vice president for campus life and executive director of health and wellness, will work with CAPS “to develop a team that will oversee clinical services and provide administrative oversight,” she wrote in an email, reviewed by The Herald, to colleagues in the University’s Division of Campus Life, the administrative body where CAPS is housed.

In addition, Britto will invite students and team members to a number of listening sessions, where they will begin to envision a “longer-term leadership plan” to fill Meek’s vacancy, which she anticipates will entail a “vigorous national search.”

In his letter, Meek reflected on positive changes made to the CAPS program over the course of his tenure as its director.

“When I arrived on College Hill, the reputation and the services at CAPS were not thought of very positively,” Meek wrote. “Students waited too long for services, there was a real need for our team to be more diverse and culturally competent and many people were frustrated at being sent to the community for care.”

Meek expressed gratitude for the University community and confidence that he’s leaving CAPS in a better state than when he arrived. 

Over the course of his tenure, Meek wrote in his letter, students have experienced shorter average wait times for their first sessions and fewer students are being referred to private practice therapists in the community. And the CAPS team has become more multilingual and more diverse over the past few years for which the program won a DIAP Community Award in May. Meek also oversaw a shift at CAPS that embraced a multicultural perspective on mental health, he wrote.

Many of these strides wouldn’t have been possible without student collaboration, Meek wrote. 

“Services like ours thrive when students have a real voice and influence in how things work,” he wrote in his letter to the editor. “That, paired with a talented clinical staff was our recipe for success.”

Stefanie Kaufman-Mthimkhulu ’17, founder and director of Project LETS, praised Meek’s commitment  to respecting and listening to student voices. “Will has been one of the only staff at the University that I’ve worked with who I really feel like listened to me and believed me about my experiences,” they said. 

“I’ll never forget the first meeting we had in the Underground, huddled around a laptop,” they said. “And he just listened to us for like three hours.”

Outside of his new role at Minerva Schools, Meek will continue to roast coffee beans and spend time with his wife and son by the coast whenever possible, he added.

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