FILE PHOTO: ALEXANDER BROWN/ THE HOYA GSP students were given access to free mental health resources and appointed an in-house wellness adviser as a result of an anonymous donation this academic year.
GSP students were given access to free mental health resources and appointed an in-house wellness adviser as a result of an anonymous donation this academic year.

Georgetown Scholarship Program students can now receive all Counseling and Psychiatric Services mental health resources for free, and schedule appointments with a CAPS staff psychologist specifically assigned to supporting GSP students as of the beginning of this academic year through a partnership funded by an anonymous donor this summer.

GSP students who visit CAPS psychologists or request a psychiatric follow-up will be able to bill the recently reduced appointment fees of $10 and $15 respectively directly to GSP.

CAPS staff psychologist Daniel Phillip has been appointed as GSP’s in-house wellness advisor, or counselor, and is available for GSP students during office hours Monday, Tuesday and Friday afternoons in the GSP office. Phillip is one of 15 staff psychologists at CAPS and will assume other responsibilities as a staff psychologist outside of his GSP work.

Previously, GSP students could place a request for a grant from GSP to cover a medical expense.
GSP Program Director Melissa Foy (COL ’03) said the donation will also provide CAPS with resources to improve response times and flexibility for all students.

“It is important to note that this donation was hopefully a little helpful to CAPS in allowing them to hire another person,” Foy said. “We [GSP] have him for 10 hours of his time, they [CAPS] get the other 30 hours, but their budget was also increased to hire more folks in general. That is really important for students to know. If you went in the past and told there was a wait, those issues are not going unnoticed.”

The hiring of Phillip was made possible by the donation, according to CAPS Director Phil Meilman. Foy declined to provide the value of the donation.

“[Phillip’s] presence helps make CAPS a more user-friendly service, and it gives us the ability to reach out to an important campus constituency,” Meilman wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Foy said the donation will help alleviate stresses about finances that GSP students face, particularly around medical expenses.

“Georgetown is a stressful place,” Foy said. “If you look at the national stressors of college students, financial is the number one or number two consistently.”

The donation came in the form of a current-use gift — a donation that can be used at the discretion of the university. GSP worked with CAPS, the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access, the Division of Student Affairs and Health Education Services to determine the best way to use the donor’s contribution.

“[The donor] approached me and he said he’d like to make a gift that will help alleviate some of the mental health issues that our students encounter,” Foy said. “I went on a wild goose chase and tried to figure out how to use the funds with my lack of expertise.”

Foy said she ultimately decided to follow the CMEA’s model of offering students a trained professional who becomes part of the program staff. CAPS Assistant Director John Wright currently spends a day a week supporting students at CMEA as part of a program launched last year.

“[Wright] is embedded within the fabric of this program so students are seeing him as a member of our team which I think was really important to everybody,” Foy said.

Foy said students who have had negative experiences with CAPS will notice improvements in its services.

“If you had a bad experience with CAPS in terms of waiting in the past, or getting in, I think that we are going to see improvements in those areas by the increased bandwidth and capacity of their staff,” Foy said.

Phillip said his presence in the GSP office is intended to help establish trust with students.

“Whenever I spend time in the GSP lounge or at the front desk or attend some of the social events, I humanize the role of mental health practitioner. This reduces any hesitation students may have regarding help-seeking, as students can drop by and talk informally,” Phillip wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Bserat Ghebremicael (MSB ’17), a GSP student, said Phillip’s office hours in the GSP office provide students with a more intimate experience than visiting the CAPS office in Darnall Hall.

“Having Dr. P come to the GSP office offers students a much more comfortable space to share thoughts in,” Ghebremicael said. “GSP itself is a home away from home and over the past 11 years, the staff have done an incredible job in keeping GSP as a safe space for students. Bringing Dr. P here allows us to maintain that.”

Correction: This article previously stated there are six CAPS staff psychologists; there are 15. 

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