Our January report documented the significant, growing, and too-often unmet demands on UHS and on the McCosh Health Center that serves as its primary location. Our continuing review persuades us that UHS needs enhanced staffing in a number of critical clinical, administrative, and support positions to meet a demand for services that already is growing, and is likely to grow even more when the University begins to increase the size of the undergraduate student body in 2007. (At that time the University will also introduce four-year residential colleges, and we hope that the planning for those colleges will explore opportunities for UHS to provide additional health education, disease prevention, and wellness programs in the colleges.) Our recommendations below focus only on what we believe to be the University’s immediate and mid-term needs for medical, mental health, health education, and support services. They are consistent with other recommendations in recent years from the UHS’s outside advisory council and the Student Health Advisory Board.
We also recommend that UHS strongly consider providing some urgent primary care for faculty and staff at McCosh Health Center and provide a meaningful program of annual health screenings for faculty and staff (e.g., cancer prevention, diabetes, cardiovascular health screening, hypertension, etc.).
Mental Health Services
Like other colleges and universities, Princeton has seen a dramatic increase in recent years in the demand for mental health services by undergraduates and graduate students and in the severity of mental health conditions that need to be treated. This academic year alone, Princeton students have been hospitalized off campus 18 times for serious mental health disorders, and psychiatry-related admissions to the UHS inpatient service, which increased by 111% between academic years 2001-02 and 2002-03, are up 43% this year. There is also a growing demand for a full range of mental health services: following a 33% growth over the past three years, individual therapy sessions are up by 15% this year in the Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) unit at UHS; psychiatric consultations, which grew by 80% in the past three years and are being capped this year for budgetary reasons, are up an additional 8% this year; and the Crisis Team, a new service instituted this year, is unable to meet the daily demand for urgent evaluation appointments and at one point this spring the wait for an elective counseling appointment approached 30 days. UHS is currently providing onsite office space to two private practice psychiatrists in order to offer additional access to mental health services for Princeton students, but this is not sufficient to meet the demand. Benchmarking reveals that Princeton lags behind many of its sister institutions in employing salaried staff psychiatrists in their mental health units.
Provide an emergency infusion of funding to provide more psychiatric consultation hours in the immediate short term. (Such funding has been approved by the provost for the remainder of this semester.)