Dear Brown Students,
I wanted to send you all a thank-you note as I depart the University. I've been the director of Counseling and Psychological Services for 3.5 years, and during that time our center has gone through a major transformation, in no small part thanks to you.
When I arrived on College Hill, the reputation and the services at CAPS were not thought of very positively (see this BDH Article). 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 providers in the community for care. I'm happy to say that during my tenure as director, our average wait for a first session has continued to be under three days (it's even shorter this fall), our staff is now incredibly diverse and multilingual (we won a DIAP Community Award in May for this) and last year we were on track to refer only five percent of students to providers in the community (down from 35 percent in 2016).
Philosophically, much of the change came from embracing a multicultural perspective on mental health. Systemic improvements needed to include breaking free of traditional counseling center practices that did not resonate with our global student community and working to help more international students and students from historically underserved groups.
Furthermore, many of these changes that made us better were generated in collaboration with students. For example, I will never forget a meeting I had with Stefanie Kaufman '17, founder of Project LETS, and a handful of others one late spring afternoon in the back of the Underground. That exchange, hovered around a laptop overflowing with questions, ultimately led to the creation of the CAPS Student Consultation Board and many other initiatives that began to restore student trust in our office.
Services like ours thrive when students have a real voice and influence in how things work. That, paired with a talented clinical staff, was our recipe for success. My hope is that students are able to maintain being the central voice in how CAPS operates as the office moves into the next era (and a new building), and that the improvements we made for you are maintained and built upon.
Finally, thank you for everything you've taught me here, especially your ideas, partnership and dedication to mental health for all at Brown. Please take good care of yourselves and each other.
Will Meek, PhD
Dear Brown Students,