Health and Medicine

Carolina launches 24/7 hotline to support student mental health

The new service, recommended by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Mental Health Task Force, will give Carolina students direct access to mental health professionals at any time of the day or night.

The reflection of the Bell Tower.
The campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

As of Aug. 17, Carolina students have 24/7 access to mental health support via a new Counseling and Psychological Services hotline.

Students who are experiencing a crisis or who need immediate mental health support can call Counseling and Psychological Services at 919-966-3658 at any time to be connected with a professional who can help.

The CAPS 24/7 hotline will be staffed at night and on the weekends by clinicians through ProtoCall, a national company that provides around-the-clock counseling and support. CAPS counselors will continue to answer calls and see students during regular business hours and can provide additional support and resources.

The new after-hours service was one of nearly 60 recommendations made by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Mental Health Task Force in April. The task force was convened in 2018 by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert Blouin and former Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp to assess the mental health care needs of students at Carolina.

“We got input directly from students that they wanted access to mental health professionals even after hours,” said Erica Wise, task force chair and clinical professor in the psychology and neuroscience department. “This was a clear priority and something that could be implemented in time for students coming back to campus this fall.”

Immediate access to counselors in a time of crisis can make all the difference to a student who is struggling, said Allen O’Barr, a psychiatrist and the director of CAPS.

“I think especially students who are new to the University and making that transition for the first time may not necessarily have found a place where they feel that they belong,” O’Barr said. “We want them to know that they’re actually not alone. Talking to someone who can understand what they’re going through is just a phone call away.”

University officials will continue implementing the task forces’ other recommendations to provide the best mental health care to students in the coming months and years.

“Our vision is really to be sure that we are using our resources in the most effective and compassionate way that we can,” Wise said.