As part of a series on the Counseling And Psychological Services (CAPS) team at Minerva, below are short overviews of how CAPS responded to the COVID19 pandemic – written by Aspen Pflughoeft. Check out parts one, two, three, & four to learn more about CAPS – how it’s changed over the years and between classes!

The 2019-2020 academic year ended with many Minerva students leaving rotation cities to return to their home countries. Spurned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the students’ exodus exposed many students to unexpected additional stress. As I-Ching Grace Hung, the CAPS Senior Manager, stated, the team recognized that student faced “uncertainty, grief, loneliness, and anxiety that can come with a global crisis such as this, not to mention other stressors that can lead to additional mental health implications (e.g., financial, logistical, academic, adjustment back home, etc.).”

The Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Team responded by extending their services for a limited number of remote sessions and sharing mental health-related resources for students on the Community Portal.

On March 22nd, CAPS announced via the Community Portal that they would provide 3 virtual sessions for students to aid in the transition out of the rotation city. According to Hung, by mid-April, less than 50% of the students previously using CAPS services availed the extended sessions, while the number of new students accessing the sessions remained low. In San Francisco and Buenos Aires where groups of students remained, CAPS continued working with, according to Hung, “a steady flow of students.”

In addition to these counseling sessions, CAPS shared multiple resources regarding mental health through the Community Portal. These resources — which included online articles, courses, webinars, and apps — came in a series of 7 posts from mid-March to mid-May. The resources aimed to further support students throughout the end of the semester and into the summer. 

As part of Student Life, CAPS collaborated with other teams to facilitate various student-centered community events at the end of the semester. These included Quinquatria, Continuum, and Oxygen breathers. Overall, CAPS’ efforts were guided by their primary purpose of supporting students while following their licensure regulations. 

To assess the student experience and response to these efforts, the Quest conducted a survey of students. In this survey, 20 out of the 34 respondents (58.8%) reported that they did not know about the virtual sessions. Additionally, of the respondents, 14 (41.2%) reported that they did not know about the resources shared on the Portal while 11 (32.4%) knew about these resources and did not use them. Total, 9 students (26.5%) reported using some or all of the shared resources.

Multiple students responded saying that summer resources or summer services from CAPS would be appreciated, particularly as students continue to cope with the uncertainty of the coming academic year.