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FAQ

Questions about Mental Health Services (MHS)?  Please review these Frequently Asked Questions.  If you have further questions contact us at 212-305-3400.

I need to speak with someone right away

Contact us, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 212-305-3400.  During office hours, select option 1.  We will try to schedule a phone appointment within 24 hours with one of our clinicians.  If you would prefer, you can go directly to Student Health to be assessed by the triage nurse.  After business hours, contact us at 212-305-3400, option 7 to reach the clinician on call.

What should I do if I’m concerned about a friend or student?

If you are concerned about someone and you feel they are in immediate danger, you should call Public Safety at 212-305-7979. If you would like to consult with one of our clinicians about a friend or student, please contact us at 212-305-3400.  Please refer to Help a Student/Friend for more information.

Are your services confidential?

All contacts with a Mental Health Services (MHS) clinician are entirely confidential, except in those rare instances of imminent risk of harm to self or others, or where otherwise required by law.

No information is shared with your deans or professors unless you request or consent to it in writing. Similarly, no information is shared with friends, family or other clinicians outside of SHS without your explicit consent. MHS psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy records are not accessible to anyone other than MHS staff and are securely stored separately from your medical records.

It is important to note that MHS clinicians work as a team and consult with one another, as needed. There may also be communication between MHS and other divisions of the Student Health Service, when clinically indicated, to facilitate treatment planning.

How do I know if I need help?

A consultation with Mental Health Services may be beneficial to you if you find yourself experiencing any of the following: you feel an overwhelming, prolonged sense of helplessness and sadness; you find yourself worrying excessively, expecting the worst or constantly on edge; you find it difficult to concentrate on work assignments or to carry out other everyday activities; your actions, such as drinking too much alcohol, using drugs or being aggressive, are harming you or others; your problems don't seem to get better despite your efforts and help from family and friends.  You may find completing these questionnaires helpful to get a more clear sense of what might be happening.

What sort of issues do you treat?

We are experienced mental health clinicians trained to treat a wide range of issues, ranging from difficulties with adjustment to CUMC or New York City to anxiety and mood disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, and trauma, as well as interpersonal concerns, such as relationship problems, identity issues, sexual and intimacy issues, and loss or grief.  Our clinicians are trained in a variety of modalities (psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based therapy) and have specific training in eating disorders, substance abuse, and trauma. 

What kinds of services do you offer?

We offer a wide range of services: short-term individual therapy, psychiatric evaluation and treatment, and consultation and referral for long-term psychotherapy, as well as crisis management.   We also have a number of ongoing therapy groups.  At times, we are able to accommodate couples for couples therapy. 

All students begin the process of treatment with a phone appointment, followed up by an in-person initial assessment.  After evaluation, appropriate treatment options are discussed. If long-term psychotherapy best suits your needs, your clinician will assist you in establishing a relationship with a clinician off-campus in private practice who accepts your insurance.  If short-term therapy is a good fit, you and the clinician will meet on-campus at Mental Health Services.  You and the clinician will collaborate in establishing treatment length and goals.  If you want to continue with longer term treatment, your clinician will assist you with a referral using your insurance.

I am interested in ongoing psychotherapy

If you know at the outset you would like ongoing psychotherapy, we can help you find an appropriate clinician who can see you in their private practice. This has the advantage of allowing you the opportunity to build a long-term relationship with a provider who will be able to see you throughout your tenure as a CUMC student, and perhaps beyond.  

You can schedule a phone appointment through our web portal and one of our clinicians will be happy to assist you in finding a clinician who takes your insurance – whether that is Aetna Columbia Student Health or another carrier.  You will be responsible for a copay per visit, provided you are seeing an in-network clinician. Visits to an out-of-network clinician are reimbursed at a lower rate and deductibles will apply.  If you do not have Aetna Columbia Student Health and would prefer to seek out a provider on your own, you can go to the DocFind page of your insurance and select someone based on your zip code and any other preferences.

I’m not interested in psychotherapy at this time. I would just like to have my prescription refilled

Go to the MHS web portal to schedule a triage appointment or contact us at 212-305-3400, option 1. We will discuss various pharmacotherapy treatment options with you.

I am running out of medication and can’t wait for an appointment

Contact us at 212-305-3400, option 1. 

Do you do psychological testing?

We do not currently offer testing.  You can visit the Office of Disability Services on the first floor of Bard Hall to get a list of places that offer testing.  Once you have made the appointment with the clinician or clinic that is conducting the testing, please contact us. If you have Aetna Student Health, we will be able to submit a referral which may partially cover the cost of the testing.

I'm not sure if I qualify for treatment at Mental Health Services

All full-time students are automatically billed the Health Service Fee.  If you are not full-time and would like services, you can elect to pay this fee.  Students, and their partners who have paid the Health Service Fee, are eligible to be seen at Mental Health Services.

I can't sign up on the web portal

Are you registered as a student on this campus?  If you're registered at the Morningside Campus, you will need to call (212) 854-2878 to schedule an appointment at their counseling service.  If you are a dual degree student, you are eligible for services on the campus in which you are currently in residence.

Can I set up an appointment before I get to campus?

All students need to be enrolled at the University prior to scheduling an appointment.

Can I request a counselor with certain areas of expertise, gender or background?

Yes, when you speak with the clinician during your telephone appointment, let him/her know your preferences.

What if I want to switch treatment providers?

Issues sometimes arise.  We recommend first discussing your concerns with your current provider.  If you are uncomfortable doing so, or if this has not been successful, please set up a telephone triage appointment with another provider either through accessing the website portal or by phone at 212-305-3400.  During the phone call, discuss your concerns with the triage clinician. Together the two of you will come up with a plan of how to move forward. 

How long is the wait for an appointment?

We are usually able to accommodate students within two weeks of their triage appointment.