With the approach of final exams, the U.S. general election and living in the midst of a global pandemic, life can feel pretty stressful. College students, now more than ever, need a way to decompress and take care of their mental well-being. How else are they supposed to finish a full semester of school with two fewer weeks of class?
One solution that some Hope College students gravitate toward is meeting with a counselor through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). CAPS is a great resource for those who started making appointments within the first three weeks of class and didn’t start running into mental health problems midway through the semester when CAPS had already reached capacity. Surprisingly, the 1-to-1,000 counselor-to-student ratio didn’t pan out the way Hope thought it would.
“Our concern with CAPS is that it makes students feel too adult,” Dr. Infantilize, Hope’s director of Regression as a Means of False Therapy, said. “You know, saying ‘I have an appointment with my counselor,’ is AH! Scary right? ‘Adulting,’ ugh! Students want to feel free of responsibility, free of obligation. Students want to feel like kindergarteners.”
This rationale is what has led Regression as a Means of False Therapy to create the Coloring Book Family Community Puppy (not at all a replacement for) Therapy Funhouse (CBFCPTF).
“Look. Could we hire more counselors? Sure. Could we encourage more students to see CAPS after we hire more counselors so that more students have professional help? Absolutely. But is that ‘quirky’ and ‘on brand?’ Not at all. That’s why we’re so excited to introduce our Coloring Book Family Community Puppy Therapy Funhouse. This place is gonna have everything: puppies, coloring books, President Scogin screaming positive affirmations into a baby monitor.”
Upon arrival at the CBFCPTF, each student will receive a pair of light-up Skechers and a finger painting set. Additionally, they will be given either a dinosaur t-shirt or a pink tutu, depending on self-reported gender. If students identify as nonbinary, they will not know what to give them.
“Like I said earlier, students want to return to the former state of bliss that is kindergarten,” Infantilize said.
Junior Sophie Dykeman wonders why Hope takes these steps, which, to her, feel condescending and disingenuous, rather than taking steps to either directly improve CAPS or promote a more mental-health-conscious environment.
“I don’t really want to feel like a kindergartener,” Dykeman said. “Kindergarteners are powerless. I’d like to feel empowered by my school, not looked down upon by it.”
Hope administrators claim that Dykeman is an anomaly amongst their vast sea of data points. When asked by the Ranchor to present such data, they were unable to do so.
“Katie [Dykeman] is a rare exception,” Infantilize said. “We’ve done research, and that research indicates that a vast majority of Hope students want to be treated like young children with few to no choices to make for themselves.”
Dykeman, however, is worried that the puppies and coloring may just be a distraction from making actual progress to improve students’ mental health.
“Puppies are nice I guess, and coloring can be relaxing, too, but from an administrative standpoint, it seems patronizing,” Dykeman said. “If students want to color or fingerpaint to relax, they don’t need Hope telling them to do so. They need Hope to implement legitimate resources, whether that be improving CAPS, better publicizing studying and tutoring resources, or just realizing that mental health isn’t just about a student’s capacity to be productive.”
Business major (and Dykeman’s boyfriend) Carter Lockwood seemed reluctant to report anything about how he’s feeling regarding finals, the election, the pandemic or really anything else. This was the worst interview I’ve ever done.
“Yeah man I’m just vibing right now to be honest,” Lockwood said a bit too enthusiastically. “Like, I’m behind on all my work, and I think my roommate gave me corona[virus], but these puppies will keep me chill for probably the next five seconds before I start freaking out again.”
“I think if he were to admit anything about how he’s actually feeling and be vulnerable with someone, he’d feel like he was compromising his masculinity,” Dykeman said. “We’re working on it.”
Dykeman also feels concerned about the schedule for next semester.
“I don’t see this plan ending well,” Dykeman said. “Going the whole winter without any kind of extended break? They’re practically asking for a mental health disaster next semester.”
Hope’s administration claims their reasoning for not giving students an extended break is to prevent students from being irresponsible on vacations.
“We know that if students are given an extended break, they’ll go to Florida, which means they’re either going to get COVID-19 or wrestle an alligator,” Infantilize said. “We don’t want either of those things to happen.”
Some Hope students, however, claim that they wouldn’t have the energy to even go on vacation if given a longer break from classes. They view the unbroken semester as a serious threat to their mental health, which will already be affected by the cold, dreary Michigan winter weather.
“I get what they’re trying to do,” Dykeman said, “but going all winter without a break is legitimately dangerous. Seasonal depression is very real, and working students to death isn’t going to make that go away. It will probably make it worse.”
Regression as a Means of False Therapy claims that this is why they’re so insistent on hosting their CBFCPTF.
“The mental health crisis we’ve created for ourselves is exactly why we need to host these kinds of events,” Infantilize said. “Why hire more counselors or promote/improve resources when we can just keep robbing the Humane Society every seven to nine weeks?”
You can attend the CBFCPTF if you fill out your mental health snitch form on yourself. If you have any other mental health concerns, please contact CAPS. After having to convince them that you are in fact in a crisis (again, the kindergartener treatment) you will (re: might) be able to speak to a counselor.