A History of Mental Health Services at RIT

illustration by Ting Chu
illustration by Ting Chu

March 2015

RIT’s administration hired Keeling and Associates to complete an audit of the institute's mental health services using an open forum. Students expressed frustration with said services, especially concerning how difficult it was to get personal appointments.

RIT's response: Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Sandra Johnson attempted to create what she called an “integrated health model.” This opened new positions within student affairs to help students more effectively. The new positions included Associate Vice President for Student Health, Counseling and Wellness, filled by Dr. Wendy Gelbard and Director for Counseling and Psychological services, currently held by Dr. David Reetz. 

2015–2016 Academic Year

CaPS created the 2015–2020 Student Affairs Strategic Plan with a priority to maximize reach to the student population and reduce group therapy sessions. Counseling and Psychological Services added two additional staff members, increasing its budget by 17 percent.

2016–2017 Academic Year

There was an increase in CaPS Campus Outreach Education and Mental Health Training hours from 65 the previous year to 343.

February 2017

RIT’s Counseling and Psychological Services expanded amenities to students by opening an immediate care hotline at 1-855-436-1245 from 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., including weekends and holidays.

May 24, 2017 

Dr. Annamaria Kontor, qualified to fill and update hormone prescriptions from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, was fired for providing prescriptions and laboratory tests to transgender students. The Student Health Center claimed that they had a policy that prohibited prescribing hormone therapy for gender transition — a supposed policy Kontor claimed she had no knowledge of. This effectively ended hormone therapy treatment on campus.

Oct. 19, 2018 

A PawPrints petition titled “Increase Funding To The Student Health Center For Mental Health” was written, and went on to receive 3267 of the required 200 signatures to be reviewed by Student Government. This issue stemmed from the long waiting times to see a therapist.

Nov. 2, 2018 

In response to a suicide on campus on Oct. 31, 2018, RIT hosted a mental health forum to address student concerns about mental healthcare accessibility. Following the forum, President Munson sent an email to the RIT community labeling steps the administration would take to ensure better mental healthcare.

Nov. 9, 2018 

In response to RIT's claims of improvement in regards to mental health, Student Government unanimously passed a student-presented demand calling for a task force to be established to follow through with President Munson’s promises. In addition, the statement called for diverse mental health professionals and a student advisory board within CaPS.

December 2018 

RIT sent out an email announcing the formation of a joint student and administrator-led Task Force intended to investigate RIT's services and student concerns.

2017–2018 Academic Year

CaPS served 24 percent more students compared to two years ago. Walk in appointments were implemented and increased from 183 in 2015–2016 to 894 in the 2017–2018 academic year.

Dr. David Reetz, director of Counseling and Psychological services, announced a new service for students who are unable to get to the August Center. New, locally staffed offices will be built into five buildings across campus, the first being Golisano.

A number of new mental health positions, aiming to be filled by the 2019-2020 academic year, are being implemented — including an Outreach coordinator to speak with students in their places of residence. These new positions are being facilitated by Dr. Reetz and other RIT administrators.

Edited Feb. 4, 2019 at 1:18 a.m.: The article originally stated that the Student Health Center had a policy prohibiting prescribing hormone therapy for gender transition. The existence of this policy was actually only a claim made by the Student Health Center and never proven.