NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Seven Tulane students have died in the last year, two of them in a murder-suicide. Now, the university is making changes to its mental health system after hearing scathing criticism from its own students.
Tulane has seen its share of tragedies. It has lost students to suicide, an accidental fall - even murder. Now, the university's mental health services, program known as CAPS, has been under fire for not being as effective or accessible as students think it should be.
"Even though the university has not been able to attribute the suicides that were experienced to any level of services provided at CAPS or not, it led to some questions by our student community of do we have enough services in place," said Dean of Students Dusty Porter.
Student complaints were detailed not only in
but also in an online Google document published in the article. It reads: "Given the chance, what would YOU say to President (Michael) Fitts about mental health issues at Tulane University?"
There are dozens of pages, with comment after comment from students and former students talking about their experiences with the university's mental health system. One student writes, "the care I received there was one of the worst experiences I've ever had." Another student says, "there is no way 10 weeks of treatment can help someone overcome major problems. I don't have the money to go off-campus."
We also talked to students who say they're already seeing changes here since those complaints were made public.
"I think they are positive steps in the right direction. I think only time will tell if its enough. I don't think ultimately it's going to be enough," said Tulane student Daniel Gore.
Tulane may not be alone in dealing with mental health problems. We also spoke with Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, who says more federal dollars should be used to help those struggling.
"There is a real need for mental health services on college campuses, and oftentimes that age group is the group in which these diseases become manifest, so there's a lot of need out there," Cassidy said.
And, Tulane has already made changes.
"We've also created a student health advisory committee, which is called a S.H.A.C. It's pretty common for colleges and universities to have a student health advisory committee, and that's another venue for students to be giving feedback on the kinds of services that they would like to see," Porter said.
Since reading student complaints, Tulane's dean of students tells FOX 8 that they have added more staff to the mental health system, they're better communicating with students to let them know what services are available, they're organizing a system so students can talk to a licensed counselor after hours, and starting this fall, they will increase the number of counseling sessions students can attend. Right now, we're told students can only see a mental health professional nine to 12 times a year.