UNC-CH students say ‘day of wellness’ is much needed but want more focus on mental health

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – UNC-Chapel Hill students are getting a break from school onTuesday to focus on their mental health.

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced classes would be canceled Tuesday, and called it a “day of wellness.”

The move comes after two students committed suicide over the past month.

There is a growing memorial outside the student union on Chapel Hill’s campus.

“I appreciate the effort, but I really feel they should have canceled for Monday as well. I don’t think Tuesday is a good fix and we really need more time to handle everything that’s been going on,” said sophomore Alexis Plemmons.

School leaders encouraging students to support each other and take advantage of the resources available.

Freshman Zach Minemier said while he appreciates the day, he thinks it’s shouldn’t have taken people dying for the university to act.

“It’s a little bit ridiculous personally that it took them so long to make that happen considering I’ve heard a lot of buzz around campus about people complaining about how they needed mental health days, they needed wellness days, classes are super tough a lot of midterms going on right now,” said Minemier.

Students can reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services for help but students CBS 17 talked with say it’s hard to get an appointment.

“There is some things that they should do better such as CAPS. The services that they have, it’s been backed up now so it’s hard for students to be able to set appointments for that so that’s a measure they should be looking into,” said senior Jamison McDaniel.

UNC-CH sent CBS 17 a statement that reads:

“I encourage anyone experiencing mental health needs to reach out and ask for help, I want every student at Carolina to know they are not alone. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is continuing to conduct initial assessment appointments, emergency appointments, group sessions and community referrals for all students. To be clear – there is no waitlist for students who reach out to us in crisis, and our helpline is available 24/7.

“To be clear – there is no waitlist for students who reach out to us in crisis, and our helpline is available 24/7. CAPS has recently started a waitlist for individual counseling appointments for the first time in 14 years – only for those who want ongoing individual counseling appointments. The average wait time for scheduling ongoing individual counseling appointments is approximately one week. The primary reason is that CAPS has had some staff turnover, consistent with what is happening in the healthcare field across the country. We are currently hiring several permanent positions, as well as adding some short-term, temporary counselors and pursuing a telehealth counseling contract. Once this happens, we are optimistic we will not need to use the individual counseling appointments waitlist.”

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Amy Johnson

There have not been any budget cuts to CAPS.

CAPS 24/7 is an after-hours resource for students experiencing a mental health crisis or distress.

Students can call the CAPS phone number at 919-966-3658 after hours to connect with a mental health professional who can help.

Another CAPS resource is the Multicultural Health Program, which focuses on the needs of Black, Indigenous and Students of Color at UNC-Chapel Hill. It offers brief therapy, group therapy, and outreach.

You can find a full list of the services and resources offered through CAPS.

Students can also contact the Dean of Students team for support.

Later this month, UNC-CH will host a mental health summit.

The university is also launching the Heels Care Network, which is a campus-wide campaign promoting mental health. Students will be able to report someone they think needs help. It should launch in the coming weeks.

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