In response to questions on campus regarding the University’s ability to support the mental health needs of its students, Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life, announced in an email on Tuesday night that Cornell Health will be adding counselors, expanding services and planning a new comprehensive review of its mental health policies.
Lombardi’s announcement comes just a day after The Sun reported that The Sophie Fund, a non-profit organization named for a Cornellian who died by suicide while on leave from the University, sent a letter to President Pollack in August criticizing the JED foundation’s external review of Cornell’s mental health policies.
Scott MacLeod, Sophie’s father, told The Sun that he hasn’t heard back from the University yet about the letter, and Lombardi didn’t comment on whether the University’s action was in response to the criticism.
As part of its new initiatives, Cornell’s Counseling and Psychological Services will be hiring three new therapists, and Cornell Health will be adding three new positions to Student Disability Services.
“The CAPS team, comprised of over 40 psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners, is diverse in race, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and is experienced in responding to a full range of mental health concerns,” Lombardi said.
The University previously hired two additional CAPS counselors in March to try to reduce the long wait times students often faced, The Sun previously reported.
In addition to being able to see people quicker for individual appointments, CAPS is also “expanding therapy and support through group counseling, as well as the popular Let’s Talk program.”
Furthermore, Cornell Health “has enhanced its after-hours services.” The email said that people can speak with a licensed mental health clinician or medical provider 24/7, but it is unclear what after-hours services were like prior to the new initiatives. The University has not yet responded to The Sun’s request for clarification.
Lombardi also said that the University will be planning “a comprehensive review of student mental health” as part of Pollack’s new diversity and inclusion initiatives, telling students to “stay tuned for more updates as the plans progress.”
This new review will bring together “internal and external partners” and begin as early as 2019, Lombardi told The Sun in a previous statement. In his email, Lombardi said that preliminary discussions between students, staff and faculty of the Coalition on Mental Health will start this fall.
“Supporting your mental health and well-being is a shared priority in our community,” Lombardi wrote. “Together, we will continue to gather information, ask questions, and engage in discussion related to emerging trends, research findings, and campus initiatives in support of mental health and well-being.”