Oregon State University’s Counseling and Psychological Services, Student Health Services and Associated Students of OSU Student Legal Services are all available to students during OSU’s transition to remote learning. Accessibility to these services, however, can differ depending on which state students are currently located in.
Counseling and Psychological Services
Ian Kellems, the director of CAPS, said all services are available remotely to students, such as its on-call clinic and after-hours call center, individual and group counseling and single-session interventions. However, students in certain states outside of Oregon may not be able to access CAPS based on their state’s licensing laws.
Kellems named the four different kinds of licenses practiced within CAPS, including licensed clinical social workers, licensed psychologists, licensed professional counselors and licensed marriage and family therapists. Every state has a governing board for each license.
“Our approach has been to look at the demographics of OSU, and see which states we have the most students from outside of Oregon, and to focus on getting permission to practice in those states,” Kellems said.
These states include Washington, California, Colorado, Texas and Hawaii. CAPS psychologists can currently treat students living in California, Colorado and Texas, and therapists have applied for permission to see students in Washington. According to Kellems, Hawaii is strict about whom they let practice in the state, so it is unlikely that CAPS will be able to serve students there.
“This changes every day—every week, states are coming out with updated procedures. So, if someone contacted CAPS three weeks ago, and we said ‘well, we can’t serve you because your state won’t let us,’ that might be different now,” Kellems said.
Kellems said trying to navigate how to best serve students in different states has been challenging, since each state has authority over who they can treat in their boundaries.
“Because it’s a state authority, every state has to provide permission, and every state is different,” Kellems said. “Not only that, but there's different types of providers.”
Overall, CAPS has seen their appointment numbers fall about 50%, consistent with programs at other higher education institutions.
“It sounds ironic, but I think some students are too overwhelmed to access services. Others have concerns around remote learning. Some don’t have access to a private space. There’s a lot of reasons that can get in the way of that,” Kellems said. “What I want students to know is that now is actually the best time to get into CAPS, because we don’t have a waitlist. If you ever thought about using therapy or that you might benefit from it, then now would be the best time to do it.”
Kellems said out-of-state students that are not able to participate in counseling with a licensed psychologist or therapist can still participate in services like CAPS’ single-session clinic and drop-in discussion groups.
“We want students to know that we’re here for them, so even if they have questions about ‘can CAPS help me,’ or ‘what’s going on in my state,’ the place to start is to call and to talk with a counselor, and then a counselor can help you think through what your resources are,” Kellems said.
Student Health Services
Jenny Haubenreiser, associate vice provost for Student Affairs and executive director of SHS, said SHS is offering a wide range of medical services via telehealth, and that students can still access on-site services, including primary care visits, reproductive health care appointments, lab testing and x-ray services. The Survivor Advocacy and Resource Center is also available through remote service delivery.
Similar to CAPS, SHS clinicians are licensed on a state-by-state basis, and licensing dictates where a clinician is allowed to practice. This has resulted in some limitations for telehealth and distance counseling for students living outside of Oregon, according to Haubenreiser.
“However, we currently have clinicians licensed in Washington and California as well as Oregon, so we can provide telehealth in those states,” Haubenreiser said via email. “We continue to track this closely as other states take similar actions to increase access to health care across the U.S.”
Haubenreiser said the transition to remote services and telehealth appointments has gone well, since SHS has been working on building the capacity for telehealth appointments for some time.
“The COVID-19 crisis accelerated our timeline as well as the scope of these services, and overall, students are responding favorably,” Haubenreiser said via email. “Plus, this has the added benefit of allowing providers to connect with students to assess respiratory symptoms to determine whether they need to be seen. This helps protect other students and health care workers and preserve personal protective equipment.”
Haubenreiser said she is thankful for the SHS staff and nurses who work the Nurse Advice Line, noting that this service has been of central importance in supporting students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our physicians, nurse practicioners, physician assistants, nurses, medical assistants and front office staff are the most compassionate and caring people and work hard every day to do what they can to protect and care for our students,” Haubenreiser said via email. “We would also like students to know that we are open and available to provide a wide range of services to them. We are finding telehealth appointments to be very effective and a convenient way for students to access our care. We will continue to offer telehealth as an option once campus is re-opened,” Haubenreiser said via email.
ASOSU Student Legal Services
Although the Student Experience Center offices are closed, ASOSU Student Legal Services remains open and available to students throughout the term, with services delivered remotely.
Noah Chamberlain, attorney for the law firm Access the Law, said both in-state and out-of-state students have the same access to ASOSU Student Legal Services, and that students are encouraged to contact the office regardless of their current location. Attorneys, however, are licensed to practice in Oregon, meaning they can only give legal advice regarding Oregon matters.
“We would not be able to provide legal advice to an out-of-state student to the extent their matter involves another state’s law,” Chamberlain said via email.
Chamberlain added, however, that although ASOSU Student Legal Services is unable to give substantive legal advice to out-of-state students, they can help connect students to appropriate legal services in their area.
Chamberlain said their office has not noticed a significant drop in students who have accessed their services, and that recent matters have mostly involved landlord-tenant issues, rather than a wide range of legal concerns.
“We recognize that this transition has been difficult for all members of our community. As attorneys, our firm has previous experience providing remote services (phone consultations for clients that can’t make it to our office). Continuing to do this for students has been a relatively smooth transition,” Chamberlain said via email. “We are also grateful to ASOSU for providing access to the Zoom platform to communicate with students during these times. We are able to meet with groups of roommates to have group consultations and more impressively it allows us to consult with international students that are out of the country.”