Crisis Assistance

Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) operates on an appointment basis; however, we recognize that students may experience a crisis situation that warrants urgent attention. If you are experiencing emotional or psychological distress and are unsure if your distress warrants immediate crisis assistance, please reference the examples below. Whether CAPS is open or closed, help is available to you 24 hours a day. Concerned about someone else? Staff, faculty, friends, and family can call us for consultation or assistance regarding a UCSC student in distress. For faculty and staff who wish to identify and intervene with students who are in distress, please see the resources on responding to distressed students in the "For Staff & Faculty" section at the bottom of our home page. Family and other loved ones can serve as critical resources to students in distress. If you are concerned about your UCSC student, please read our Frequently Asked Questions for Parents/Family page for tips and information on resources.

Examples of immediate crisis situations:
  • You are having thoughts of physically harming yourself or someone else.
  • You are having odd or disturbing experiences, such as hearing voices or seeing things that others do not see or hear.
  • You experienced a physical or sexual assault within the last few days.
  • You or someone you care about is being physically hurt or abused, or someone is threatening to hurt you or someone else.
  • You are having difficulties coping with the death of someone who died recently.
  • You believe you are having an adverse reaction to a psychological medication prescribed by CAPS (although if your health or life is in imminent danger, call 911 or visit an urgent care facility or emergency room).
  • You are having a crisis related to your drug or alcohol use (although if your health or life is in imminent danger, call 911 or visit an urgent care facility or emergency room).
  • In the past few days, due to a serious mental health issue, you have lost the ability to take care of your basic needs (e.g., feeding yourself).
  • A UCSC student you know is experiencing one of the situations listed here and you aren't sure what to do about it (although if the student's health or life is in imminent danger, call 911).

When CAPS Is Open

During business hours (Mon–Fri, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.), if you are a UCSC student who is experiencing an immediate crisis situation (see above), phone CAPS at (831) 459-2628 and indicate the reason you need a same-day crisis appointment. If it is not a true crisis, you will be offered our next initial assessment appointment, which is typically within a few business days. Also, you may walk in to the CAPS office, located at the Student Health Center in the East Wing on the 2nd floor, where you will be asked to complete a brief assessment form, and a determination will be made if a same-day crisis appointment is indicated.

If you are not in an immediate crisis situation but would like to initiate services as soon as possible, please call (831) 459-2628 and inform our office staff that you would like to schedule an initial appointment. This initial in-person appointment, usually scheduled within a few business days, will help us clarify your needs and direct you to the services and/or referrals that appear most appropriate in addressing your concerns.

If you have an appointment scheduled and need tips for what to do to manage your distress while waiting for the appointment, please see our handout on self-care while you wait.

For information on our services, please see our Counseling Services page.

When CAPS Is Closed

After business hours, during weekends, and on holidays, telephone crisis assessment, safety planning, and referrals for UCSC students are available by calling our main number, (831) 459-2628, and selecting option “3” (talk to a counselor) on the automated menu. You will be connected to a crisis counselor who can provide immediate consultation and support by phone regarding a variety of crisis issues and can facilitate contact with CAPS staff the next business day if needed. Family, friends, staff, and faculty with concerns about a UCSC student in crisis can also call this number to consult with a crisis counselor.

Emergency and Crisis Resources

The following resources are also available on evenings, weekends, and holidays when the CAPS office is closed: