CAMHS FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about CAMHS

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

You can call the CAMHS Cares 24/7 mental health support line at (617) 495-2042 and follow the prompts to speak on the phone with a CAMHS Cares mental health provider. This option is available to you 24/7.  You don't have to wait to talk with a mental health provider!

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 (Mon-Friday), you can call CAMHS at (617) 495-2042 and request a same-day appointment (in-person or virtual) during regular office hours.  

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, and 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.

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. 

What if I'm looking to meet with a specific CAMHS provider?

In your initial phone appointment, you can specify if you have preferences regarding a clinician’s area of expertise and/or characteristics of the clinicians themselves. We will do our best to meet your requests based on availability and your mental health concerns. You may also review CAMHS Staff bios.

What is urgent care?

You can call the CAMHS Cares 24/7 mental health support line at (617) 495-2042 and follow the prompts to speak on the phone with a CAMHS Cares mental health provider. This option is available to you 24/7.  You don't have to wait to talk with a mental health provider!

In-person Urgent Care is available every day for mental health and safety concerns Mon-Thur, 8am - 6pm, Friday 8am - 5pm. For concerns after hours (between 6pm - 8am), please call (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.

How many therapy sessions will I have?

The number and frequency of sessions depend 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. 

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).
  • Check the CAMHS calendar for current listings.
  • To request a future workshop for your program, please take a look at the the types of offerings on our Groups menu, and contact the staff clinician for more information or reach out to Tara Cousineau, PhD, Marketing and Community Engagement Specialist, tcousineau@huhs.harvard.edu

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.

How much does a session cost?

Services at CAMHS are offered at no cost and are covered by your student health fee. 

However, 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.

How long are sessions?

Initial consults with therapists (Social Workers, Psychologists, Licensed Mental Health Counsellors, and 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 Residents) are typically 60 minutes with follow-up appointments ranging from 15-30 minutes.

Urgent Care appointment length varies based on your presented needs.

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

Based on specific mental health needs and schedules, 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 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 to begin 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.

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.

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 your 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 they 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 your permission.

Will my mental health record impact my ability to obtain a job that requires 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.

A job application asks if I've ever been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. Do I have to answer "yes" to this question?

Not necessarily. Many people are seen for issues other than “psychiatric disorders.” For example, therapy related to coping with normal life stressors such as breakups, relationship issues, academic stress, or loss of a loved one would not typically be viewed as therapy for a “psychiatric disorder.”

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 with 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 with another person, you need to fill out the Release of Information Form.