Mental Health Service: Frequently Asked Questions
Will my parents be notified that I am coming to the Mental Health Service?
If you are 18 years of age or older, your parents will not be notified of your treatment at the Mental Health Service unless you sign a "Release of Information" form.
Is what I tell you confidential?
The Mental Health Service follows all professional standards, state and federal laws to protect your personal information. For more specific information, review our confidentiality policy.
Do you bill health insurance?
Although most of the Health Center is now billing health insurance for appointments, the Mental Health Service is not. There is a $15 fee per appointment. This fee is billed through the Bursar's Office and will show on your student account as "Health Center." If you purchased health insurance through the Health Center (SHIP), the $15 fee is paid by your insurance carrier.
What if I can't afford the $15 fee for appointments?
If the $15 fee poses a financial hardship for you, please speak with your clinician about this. The Mental Health Service will provide services to any student, regardless of their ability to pay.
What if my parents pay my student account and I don't want them to find out about my visits to the Mental Health Service?
Please speak with your clinician at the time of your appointment if you are concerned about the fee showing up on your student account. You can pay the fee at the time of your appointment through the Health Center pharmacy. Information about your visits to MHS are not released without your permission.
What if I want my clinician to share information with my parents?
Information about all Health Center visits, including Mental Health, is protected and confidential. Any information about your care, including to parents, can only be released with your written permission. Please speak to your clinician about this and sign a release of information available at the Mental Health Service. You can specify what information you do and do not want released to your parents.
Which clinician will I see?
You will generally be scheduled with whichever clinician has the first available appointment that matches your schedule. For psychotherapy, your appointment will be with a licensed clinical social worker or a graduate student intern (someone who is almost finished with their PhD in Psychology or Masters degree in Clinical Social Work). For a medication evaluation or a medication management appointment, you will be scheduled with whichever psychiatrist has the first available appointment that matches your schedule. In certain circumstances, we can grant requests for appointments with a specific clinician. Please inform the receptionist of your request when you call for an appointment.
How long will I have to wait for a first appointment?
The Mental Health Service is committed to minimizing wait times as much as possible. The wait for a scheduled appointment can vary and sometimes stretch longer than we want depending on the number of students requesting services at any given time in the semester. The Mental Health Service is always available to respond to emergencies if you are unable to wait for your appointment.
How long will the appointment take?
All psychotherapy appointments last approximately 45 minutes. First time psychiatric appointments take about 45-60 minutes, and follow up psychiatric appointments take 15-30 minutes. The paperwork that needs to be completed prior to the first appointment takes 20-30 minutes to complete, so please arrive early if you have not already completed the questionnaires.
Why do I have to complete the computerized questionnaires?
Completing the intake paperwork prior to your first appointment allows your clinician to gather information about your mental health history and prepare for your session.
Do you have crisis counseling?
Yes. If you are in an urgent situation, or feel that you cannot wait until the first available appointment, we have a social worker available to respond to emergencies during our office hours. Students in crisis are seen on a first come, first served basis. You will need to complete some paperwork prior to meeting with a clinician. You can find more information about mental health emergencies here.
Can I interview a clinician for a class?
The Mental Health Service will grant requests for interviews whenever possible, however our priority is to care for students' mental health. We will likely not be able to provide interviews during times of high stress, such as during mid-terms and finals. You might consider speaking to someone in Health Promotions for more information about general health and mental health issues.
FAQs about Psychotherapy
What is psychotherapy? How does it help?
Check out the following links:
How long can I meet with a therapist? What if I need more treatment than the Mental Health Service offers?
Since every situation is different, we do not have a set number of times that a student can be seen by one of our therapists. However, MHS services are primarily short term and we refer many students to be seen by therapists in the community. Your therapist will work with you to evaluate what would be the best treatment plan for your personal situation. Students who are assessed to need more intensive care than MHS provides will be offered referrals to more appropriate treatment options, including clinicians or programs in the community. MHS will always provide emergency and crisis care for students.
Can I see a therapist in MHS and still see my therapist from home?
Usually, we will advise you to see one therapist at a time. However, there are special circumstances in which we may make an exception. Please speak with your MHS clinician if you have concerns about this.
What if I feel that I am not a good match or I'm not comfortable with my counselor?
Please talk with your counselor about your discomfort and what isn't working for you. If you don't feel comfortable appproaching the counselor directly, let the receptionist know that you'd like to make a first appointment with a different therapist.
I'm a parent of a student and suspect that my daughter or son could benefit from professional help and support. What do I do?
We recommend that you express your reasons for concern to your child in a straightforward, yet loving, and supportive way. It might be helpful to say something like “I am worried about you. You just don't seem to be yourself lately. Have you thought about going to talk to someone about your concerns? I think it would be really good for you to talk with an objective person who can help you sort out what ever is bothering you. Will you call the Health Center and make an appointment?”
FAQs about Psychiatry & Medication
What is a psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has had at least four years of additional training after medical school in the field of psychiatry. Psychiatrists at the Mental Health Service are board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and are licensed by the state of Maryland.
What happens when I meet with a psychiatrist?
Once you have have had an initial assessment ("Intake") with a therapist at the Mental Health Service, you may be referred to meet with a psychiatrist either in the community or in the Health Center for a medication evaluation.
During the evaluation, you will be asked about your general health as well as your emotional health. Please be prepared to provide information about any medications (prescription, over the counter, supplements or herbal) you are taking. You will be asked about medical conditions, family medical and psychiatric history, and allergies. It is also important to let your psychiatrist know about any history of seizures, head injuries, eating disorders, and alcohol or substance use as these can impact medication. If at the end of the evaluation, the psychiatrist thinks medication would be beneficial, the psychiatrist will make specific recommendations, discuss possible side effects, provide instructions for taking the medication and answer any questions or discuss any concerns you may have. Then a follow up appointment will be scheduled to discuss how well the medication is working and if any modifications are needed.
If you have had prior psychiatric treatment, either outpatient or in a psychiatric hospital, it would be helpful to bring a copy of your records with you to the appointment.
What if I just need medication?
As of September 1, 2012, in order to see a psychiatrist at the Health Center for a medication evaluation, you must first make an appointment to see a therapist. If the therapist also feels that a medication evaluation would best fit your needs, they will refer you for an appointment with a psychiatrist in the community or in the Health Center.
Will I become a different person if I take medication?
No. Most people who take medications are glad to feel like themselves again and experience relief when symptoms of anxiety, depression, ADD/HD etc. are significantly reduced.
Is it a sign of weakness to take anti-depressant medication?
No. As with any serious illness, dealing with depression takes great
personal strength. Nonetheless, you may be exposed to negative attitudes
about anti-depressant medications, which vary among individuals and
Many students have found it helpful to take the perspective that medication is one form of treatment for depression, just as medication may be used to treat allergies, asthma, infections or diabetes.
Will I become addicted to anti-depressant medication?
How long will I need to take medication?
It is generally recommended that medication be taken for a minimum of 9 to 12 months. This is because there is a high probability that symptoms will recur if the medication is stopped sooner. All medications should be monitored by a health care provider and stopped only under their direction.
How does the psychiatrist decide what medication to prescribe for me?
Medication decisions are made based on several criteria, including particular difficulties you are having, other medications you are taking, any medical problems you may have and even medication effects in other family members.
Why did the psychiatrist prescribe one antidepressant for my friend with depression, but a different one for someone else?
Responses to medication are highly individualized. A medicine that works well with one person may work very differently in a second person.
Some FAQs credited to University of Michigan Counseling & Psychological Services
- About the University Health Center
- Clinical Services
- Mental Health Services
- General Insurance FAQ's
- Mandatory Insurance Waiver
- Health Promotion
- Student Involvement
- New & Transfer Students
- Center for Health and Wellbeing
- Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Program
- Faculty & Staff Services
- For Parents
- Quality of Care Survey
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