Across the country, universities are seeing unprecedented increases in requests for mental health support. At Yale, nearly 60% of students report seeking out these services before they graduate. With the added stress and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for more accessible and meaningful mental health and wellness care has been even more acute.
The Yale College Community Care (YC3) program, a new initiative launched in April, expands mental health and wellness support within the residential college system and aims to become a national model for delivering care to residential student populations.
The program, which is a collaboration between the Yale College Dean’s Office and Yale Mental Health and Counseling (MHC), consists of eight new full-time mental health experts from diverse backgrounds offering culturally competent care to students in need of support. These professionals will be affiliated with specific residential colleges and students will soon come to know them as part of their community, university leaders say.
“The pressures of modern society are driving more students than ever to seek out mental health care, and we aim to make it easier for our students by providing support closer to where they live,” says Marvin Chun, dean of Yale College. “With our residential college system, Yale is in a great position to become a national leader in how we embed mental health services and wellness programming into the undergraduate community.”
YC3 staff includes four licensed clinical psychologists, known as College Care Clinicians (CCCs), with offices on Yale’s central campus. The addition of these positions will increase access to services for students experiencing urgent mental health crises and shorten wait times for long-term support through MHC. Students can engage with CCCs in drop-in sessions, scheduled one-on-one meetings, or in group settings. Sessions will be available both in-person and online via Zoom and are confidential.
The remaining four members of YC3 are Community Wellness Specialists (CWCs) who will hold offices embedded directly in the residential colleges. They will develop programming to help students build skills for sustaining their overall wellbeing. In coordination with college deans and in partnership with the Good Life Center, the university’s official student wellness center, these professionals will help address and anticipate student concerns, foster resilience, create community, manage stress, and prevent crises. The tools and approaches offered by the CWCs can be used alongside therapy or on their own.
With more than 500 appointments and hours of wellness programming provided to undergraduates in its first six weeks, this initiative has already become a vital source of mental health support to the community. In addition, the program utilizes proactive efforts to reach more students. The YC3 team has created 90-minute programs to familiarize the 300 student leaders of the five pre-orientation programs with YC3 and Yale College’s broader network of mental health resources, and to provide them with tools to support their peers. In this way, YC3 will magnify the critical role that peers play in promoting community mental health.
The creation of the YC3 program coincides with a separate staffing increase of six new full-time positions within MHC (for a total of 14 new positions). These continued efforts demonstrate Yale’s commitment to provide a more accessible, less intimidating path for students to seek help right where they live and study.