Students and administrators reflect on success of YC3 program
Yale College Community Care, better known as YC3, was established in April 2021 to provide short-term mental health care within the residential colleges. Administrators and students spoke to the News about the success of the program so far, as well as the continued need for greater long-term mental health care at Yale.
Yasmine Halmane, Photography Editor
Unlike traditional services at Yale Mental Health and Counseling, Yale College Community Care lets students seek help close to them — in their residential colleges and in classroom buildings.
First announced in April 2021, the YC3 program offers support from clinicians and wellness specialists associated with the colleges, with the clinicians still associated with MHC. The wellness specialists hold appointments in the residential colleges, while the clinicians hold meetings in Watson Center and William Harkness Hall.
Over a year since its launch, the News spoke to administrators and students about YC3’s success so far and what work remains to be done in terms of mental health at Yale.
“It might not seem like a breakup is that bad or roommate issues are that bad, but in reality, those types of things still have an effect on students’ lives,” Gabriella Gutierrez ’23, a senior advisor in the Yale Student Mental Health Association, told the News, “There’s still daily stressors that add to what we’re facing, and I felt like having YC3 available for those types of things, [provides] a little relief for students. It shows that your issues, no matter whether you think they are minor or major … still matter.”
Students facing serious mental health challenges should seek counseling from MHC, Gutierrez said, but YC3 can be helpful for short-term care.
Senior Associate Dean of Yale College Alison Cole ’99 described YC3 as an outward-facing part of Yale College that aims to provide holistic “wrap-around care” with a combination of therapy and wellness offerings.
“I think YC3 has been incredibly successful for a variety of reasons: student usage is very high and post-program feedback is very positive, appointments can be scheduled in a short period of time, residential college deans and heads feel supported by the program, and we continue to increase partnerships across the campus,” Cole wrote in an email to the News.
Director of Mental Health and Counseling Paul Hoffman added that YC3 is designed to provide mental health counseling for “shorter-term issues” or as a way to introduce students to counseling. The program is also designed to be nimble, so that it can be adapted over time based on student needs.
When YC3 launched, there were eight YC3 clinicians. Today, the website for YC3 includes four community wellness specialists and three clinicians. Hoffman wrote in an email to the News that each YC3 clinician and wellness specialist is matched with three to four colleges and explained that they are currently interviewing candidates to fill the fourth clinician spot.
Dean of Yale College Pericles Lewis told the News that what sets YC3 apart from traditional counseling services is that it “lowers the barrier” for finding support by having the four wellness specialists in the residential colleges. He added that YC3 helps to provide support and resources “before you are in a crisis or need support from a longer term situation.”
Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd also wrote in an email to the News that she has been “delighted” with the launch of YC3. Boyd noted that the student response has been “overwhelmingly positive.” While students initially focused on the clinical care of YC3, they have been more engaged with the wellness specialists over the past year, she said.
Hoffman noted that there have been several factors that have led to YC3’s success including its ability to provide “fairly immediate” access to therapists and wellness counselors, and allowing students to book appointments online.
Rori Reiswig ’25 wrote to the News that she has seen a clinician three times and a wellness specialist once — resulting in a “really positive experience.” Reiswig added that she chose YC3 because she wanted to talk about specific, short-term issues and had heard about long wait times at Mental Health and Counseling.
Reiswig wrote that the clinician was helpful for talking about anxiety and she scheduled a second meeting to talk about how the counselor’s advice worked. The wellness specialist, Reiswig wrote, provided studying tips and ideas to prevent procrastination.
According to Hoffman, some students use both MHC and YC3 in conjunction, and still others choose to bypass the intake process at MHC through a referral from their YC3 clinician.
“Students can have a conversation with a YC3 Community Care Clinician and discuss what their treatment needs are,” Hoffman wrote. “If a student decides they need more ongoing or intensive treatment, then the YC3 clinician can transfer them into MHC without needing to do a separate intake at MHC.”
Despite the success noted by some students and administrators, others told the News that the short-term nature of YC3 makes it difficult to utilize for mental health care.
The Yale College Council’s website currently states that they hope to expand YC3 into “more long term forms of care” as a part of their policy plans.
Leslie Reyes Garcia ’25 told the News she initially signed up for YC3 last fall because she did not hear back from MHC for a long time. She felt that YC3 is good for a one time session if someone has something “urgent” to discuss.
Reyes Garcia said she was able to schedule a session for the next day after contacting a clinician and a wellness specialist. She found the clinician more helpful because she felt that they were better trained for issues outside of school, while the wellness specialists focused on issues related to school.
“It’s definitely a resource for getting you connected to other resources that I feel like many people don’t know about but then again, you have to know about YC3 in the first place,” Reyes Garcia said.
Reyes Garcia, who was paired with a therapist at MHC at the end of the fall semester last year after reaching out about 16 weeks prior, told the News the quality of counseling between MHC and the clinician at YC3 was “pretty similar” and signing up for YC3 was helpful because it connected them to other resources.
The short-term nature of YC3, however, made it harder to open up to the clinician, Reyes Garcia said.
“Most people who are looking for this type of help are looking for a long term relationship with a counselor,” Reyes Garcia told the News. “It’s difficult in general to open up to someone else, especially if you know you aren’t going to see them in the long run.”
Reyes Garcia said it was her impression that she was limited to four sessions with the clinician.
According to Hoffman, there is no limit on sessions with the clinicians or community wellness specialists. He reiterated that YC3 is designed for short-term treatment and if students determine that regular on-going treatment is more “suited to their needs,” YC3 will help connect them with a therapist at MHC.
Ultimately, though, Reyes Garcia said that YC3 feels like Yale putting a “bandaid on a bullethole,” because of the increasing demand of students needing long-term mental health and counseling.
Paul Mange Johansen ’88, a member of the mental health advocacy group Elis for Rachael, wrote to the News that while the group “applaud (s)” the addition of mental health services like YC3, they still do not find the addition of YC3 sufficient to reform mental health policy at Yale.
It is “critical,” he wrote, that wellness and comprehensive treatment for clinical mental health conditions are not conflated.
Reyes Garcia also told the News that while focusing on wellness is important, many mental health problems cannot be solved with focusing on wellness issues such as sleeping or eating healthy since there are people for whom those methods “seem like an impossible everyday task.”
Gutierrez also told the News that revamping mental health on campus is a “long process,” but she feels that YC3 has changed the mental health culture on campus.
Students can make appointments with community wellness specialists or YC3 clinicians here.
Correction, Oct.24: This article was updated to include the correct title and the class year of Senior Associate Dean of Yale College Alison Cole. A previous version of the article referred to Cole as an associate dean of Yale College.