CAMHS FAQs

CAMHS FAQs

What's the difference in group formats?

  • Psychoeducational workshops are skills-based, typically 4-8 sessions, and are voluntary to join. Most are drop-in as needed but you will get the most benefit by attending the series (for example, the Managing Emotions or CPR for Mental Wellbeing).
  • Support groups are also drop-in and require communication with the group facilitator to ensure the right fit (for example, the Recovery or Queer Support Groups).
  • Therapy groups require a referral from your CAMHS clinician and a clinical pre-screening with the group facilitator. Therapy groups typically have 6-8 members (for example, Graduate Students Support Group).

What’s the difference in group formats?

  • Psychoeducational workshops are skills-based, typically 4-8 sessions, and are voluntary to join. Most are drop-in as needed but you will get the most benefit by attending the series (for example, the Managing Emotions or CPR for Mental Wellbeing).
  • Support groups are also drop-in and require communication with the group facilitator to ensure the right fit (for example, the Recovery or Queer Support Groups).
  • Therapy groups require a referral from your CAMHS clinician and a clinical pre-screening with the group facilitator. Therapy groups typically have 6-8 members (for example, Graduate Students Support Group).
See also: Get The Facts

What do I do if I need to talk to someone today and there are no appointments available?

If it is an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.  

If you believe you are not having an emergency but need to talk with a clinician urgently the same day, you can call CAMHS at (617) 495-2042 and request a same-day appointment during office hours.  

After business hours you can call Urgent Care at (617) 495-2042 and request to speak to the on-call mental health provider. This option is available to you 24/7. 

See also: Get The Facts

Who do I talk to if I have a concern about my experience with CAMHS?

We would ask that you communicate directly with your provider. If you prefer not to share your feedback directly with CAMHS, here are some other options:

- Contact Patient Advocate, Mallory Finne, mfinne@huhs.harvard.edu, 617-495-7583. There are also Patient Advocate Feedback paper forms you can fill out at the front desk of CAMHS.

- Online anonymous satisfaction surveys you receive following your appointments that will be reviewed by CAMHS Leadership. 

See also: Get The Facts

Who can prescribe medication?

Psychiatrists, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Psychiatry Residents prescribe medication at CAMHS. Social Workers, Psychologists, Licensed Mental Health Counsellors and Social Work and Psychology Interns focus mainly on talk therapy and do not prescribe medication.
See also: Get The Facts

How long are sessions?

Initial consults with therapists (Social Workers, Psychologists and Licensed Mental Health Counsellors, Psychology and Social Work Interns) are scheduled for 20 minutes and therapy sessions are approximately 45 minutes long. 

Initial sessions with Prescribers (Psychiatrists, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Psychiatry) are typically 60 minutes with follow-up appointments ranging from 15-30 minutes.

Urgent Care appointment length varies based on your presented needs. 

What happens if I become hospitalized?

Mental health hospitalizations occur only after careful assessment by your clinician. We are committed to helping you stay engaged in their academic programs, but sometimes mental health concerns warrant a higher level of care than can be provided at CAMHS. Most hospitalizations are voluntary, meaning that the student agreed that he/she would benefit from intensive treatment.

Confidentiality is maintained throughout the hospitalization process, including intake, treatment, and discharge. The reason for hospitalization cannot be disclosed without your consent. Students who reside in University accommodations should expect that their Dean will be informed that they have been transported to a hospital, but further details are only released with the your permission.

 
See also: Get The Facts

I’m applying for a job that requires a security clearance. Will my mental health record impact my ability to obtain security clearance?

Typically, the agency that is requesting the security clearance contacts the mental health and counseling service after notifying you (we need your permission to release information, and usually the agency has already asked you to sign a release). All security clearance questions are reviewed by the Chief of Counseling and Mental Health Services.

See also: Get The Facts

Are my mental health records confidential?

Your mental health records are covered by special confidentiality laws including Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Your mental health records are not a part of your academic record. Our clinicians have access to your record, but only as necessary. We cannot share information about your mental health to anyone outside of CAMHS, including your family members, parents, friends, academic advisors, deans, or employers without your permission.

There are exceptions to confidentiality-- involving imminent safety concerns. We will always try to speak with you first and get your permission to share any information.

If you need to share information to another person, you need to fill out the Release of Information Form.

See also: Get The Facts

What is urgent care?

In-person Urgent Care is available every day for mental health and safety concerns between 8am - 6pm. For concerns after hours (between 6pm - 8am), please call our nurse advice line (617) 495-2042. 

Follow up care may include scheduling an intake to begin counseling, making an appointment to assess for medication, or transfer to a hospital. Therapy is not provided in the urgent care setting.

If you are unsure if you should come into Urgent Care, call (617) 495-2042 and request to speak with a mental health provider.

What if I don’t want to keep my appointment?

Please call (617) 495-2042 to cancel your appointment in a timely manner, which will allow us to offer an appointment to another student who needs services.

If you do not cancel your appointment ahead of time and simply do not show up for a scheduled appointment, you will incur a $25 fee. If you do incur the $25 no-show fee and would like to appeal it, please fill out and follow the instructions on the Missed Appointment Fee Appeal Form.

Your clinician will contact you via secure email or phone if you cancel an appointment or do not show up for the appointment. This is one of the ways we can follow up with you to check on your well-being and ask if you are interested in continued care.

See also: Get The Facts

How many therapy sessions will I have?

The number and frequency of sessions depends on your particular situation, in the context of our short-term model of care. Some students feel benefits after one to six sessions, others need more time. We also encourage all students to follow up with the “therapy homework” generated in your counseling sessions. Therapy homework may include keeping a journal, daily practice of relaxation skills, or tracking your self-care routines. 

Recognizing that some students may need longer term treatment for chronic mental health concerns, our clinicians will work with you to develop a treatment plan that identifies interventions, goals, and timeframes that address your presenting concern. Recommendations may include individual counseling, group therapy or a workshop, psychopharmacology, or referral to a community-based clinician. 

 
 

Why am I being referred to a clinician in the community and not at Harvard?

Based on specific mental health needs and schedule, students may be referred to work with a therapist in the community following an initial consultation with a CAMHS clinician. Recommendations are always made based on best clinical practice and in the best interest of a student's wellbeing.  For example, some students may benefit from longer-term counseling depending on their mental health symptoms, which may require more intensive care or require a particular expertise.  Other students prefer to have a private therapist in the community for personal growth, support, and continuity over the duration of their time at Harvard. 

We recommend that students begin their search for a community therapist on ThrivingCampus (huhs.thrivingcampus.com), an online mental health provider database. Some students will opt the begin a short-term, brief counseling at CAMHS as bridge sessions until they find a provider in the community.

CAMHS’ Clinical Care Coordinator, Alyssa Mauriello, LICSW, is available to support students with navigating the search process as needed. If you have any questions or need additional support with finding mental health care outside CAMHS, please contact Alyssa at amauriello@huhs.harvard.edu or (617) 495-2042.

 
 
 
 
See also: Get The Facts

How can Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) help me?

Our clinicians can help you manage a variety of concerns including: stress, anxiety, depression, mood swings, cultural adjustment, difficulties with focus and concentration, eating concerns, traumatic experience, loneliness and isolation, grief, sexuality, relationship problems, managing a chronic health condition, addictive behaviors, academic and career planning concerns. Call us even if you are not sure if we can help – we will connect you with the right support.

Many people seek counseling for personal growth and/or because they need help managing the challenges in life. Some students worry that seeking help means they are "crazy," “weak,” or “incompetent.” Seeking help from a licensed professional is a way to work through a difficult time. Counseling is available because we know that many students go through difficult times while they are here.

 
See also: Get The Facts