CAPS same-day initial appointments model yielding early success

The Center for Counseling and Psychological Services introduced a new service model last semester, the “same-day access model,” and the early results are impressive.

Under the previous model, by the 10th week of the fall 2022 semester, only 63% of students had shown up for their first counseling appointment. For fall 2023, there was a 100% show rate by the 10th week.

Erica Lennon, director of CAPS, said the decision to move to same-day appointments was not only to help increase accessibility for students but assist them in a timely manner to potentially address a situation before it worsens.

“If there is too much time between when a student needs a first appointment and when they can access one, their symptoms could intensify and actually get worse,” Lennon said. “They may not be in crisis when they call, but by the time we saw them, it may have actually deteriorated into a crisis situation. That was a primary driving force.”

CAPS has created an access team — a group of clinicians taking students on a first-come, first-served basis in the mornings and afternoons (Mondays through Thursdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 4 p.m.). The access teams meet with the students, assess their needs and make recommendations for what services may be needed moving forward.

These services can be within CAPS, in other areas on campus or potentially in the Charlotte community when beneficial to the student. Lennon said this is all part of CAPS’ personalized care model, which focuses on finding the right types of services for students at the University or in the greater community.

“A lot of times, individual counseling is looked at as the only form of treatment to address mental health concerns,” Lennon said. “This can actually be pretty harmful, because it creates a certain box that you force everybody into when there are things that expand beyond individual counseling that may actually be better suited to a students’ needs.”

Outside of same-day appointment hours, CAPS still offers services for students who need more immediate assistance. On Fridays, CAPS is available to address urgent and crisis needs specifically. There is also a 24/7 on-call counselor service that can be reached by calling the main CAPS number and following the prompts to access an on-call clinician.

More information on crisis assistance services is available on the CAPS website.