Get the Facts

Do you have unanswered questions and want to learn more about getting help from CAMHS? Check out  answers to our most commonly asked questions below. 

FAQs about CAMHS

How do I schedule an initial consult?

Sign on to the patient portal and find a provider time slot that works with your schedule. If you want to see a specific clinician, you can schedule with them based on availability. Once you have chosen an initial consult date and time, please fill out the attached questionnaire. This gives the clinician more information about your needs so they can prepare for your visit.

Please be on time for your appointment. These appointments are brief, so you want to utilize the time you have. If you are late you will need to reschedule.

What is an initial consult?

An initial consult is a 20 minute visit with a clinician to help figure out your needs. The clinician will offer useful coping skills and will make recommendations for additional services both within or outside of CAMHS. 

What is urgent care?

In-person urgent care is available every day from 8am to 10pm. Between the hours of 10pm to 8am, please call our nurse advice line at (617)-495-5711. The RN will determine the severity of the issue, and then facilitate appropriate care, whether that is at an emergency room, providing home care advice, or facilitating a next-day, in-person visit with HUHS. Community members, including residential life staff and friends can also use the service to speak with a qualified medical professional who can offer advice and help facilitate access to HUHS between 8 am and 10 pm. 

We also reserve appointments for students each weekday to accommodate urgent concerns that arise during regular business hours–please call ahead at (617) 495-2042, or (617)-495-5711 after hours.

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.


Can I request weekly therapy sessions?

The frequency of sessions is determined by your particular situation. Periodic weekly counseling may be scheduled depending on your treatment needs and goals; typically students are seen on a bi-weekly or even monthly basis until treatment goals have been met. Additional services like group counseling will enhance and compliment your care at CAMHS. 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.

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

Our clinicians can help you manage with 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.

How do I make an appointment?

Log into the Patient Portal to schedule an initial telephone or in-person consultation with one of our clinicians,  who will help you access the right services.

Consultations are offered every day throughout the week. If you have difficulty finding a time that fits your schedule, please call the office at 617-495-2042. 

How long are sessions?

Initial consults with therapists (Social Workers, Psychologists and Licensed Mental Health Counsellors, Psychology and Social Work Interns) are scheduled for 30 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. 

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.

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.

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.

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 need to be seen urgently the same day, you can either call CAMHS (617-495-2042) and request a same-day appointment or go to the Smith Centre (75 Mount Auburn Street 4th Floor) and make that request in person. 
-    After business hours you can call Urgent Care (617-495-5711) and request to speak to the on-call mental health provider. This option is available to you 24/7.

See also: Get The Facts

What happens during the initial consultation?

The clinician will ask a few questions:

  • Why are you seeking care now?
  • Have you noticed a change in your mood, feelings of worry and anxiety, self esteem, sleeping, eating, use of alcohol and other substances, thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself in any way, thoughts of wanting to hurt others, or any medical concerns?
  • Can you describe any previous counseling experiences?
  • What support system do you have here at Harvard?
  • Can you describe your current coping and self-care routine?

The answers to these questions gives the clinician a clear understanding of what your concerns are in order to make the best recommendations for you.

Recommendations may include:

  • An immediate appointment because of the urgency of your concerns
  • An intake appointment with one of our therapists, psychiatrists, or nurse practitioners
  • Recommending one of our groups or workshops
  • Referring you to the Bureau of Study Counsel (BSC)
  • Facilitating access to services from a clinician in the local community

Intake appointments with CAMHS clinicians are made as soon as possible based on your presenting concerns, your scheduling availability, and the availability of the clinician that is recommended for you.

All of our clinicians are trained and experienced at addressing student mental health concerns.

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.

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

Please call (617) 495-2042 to cancel your appointment. You will incur a $25 fee if you do not show up or cancel your appointment within 24 hours. Canceling your appointment in a timely manner also allows us to offer an appointment to another student who needs services.

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 is urgent care?

In-person urgent Care is available every day for mental health and safety concerns between 8am - 10pm. For concerns between 10pm - 8am, please call our nurse advice line (617)-495-5711. 

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) 495-5711 and request to speak with a mental health provider.

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

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,, 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

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

Students are frequently referred to experienced psychologists, social workers, or psychiatrists in the local community. The referral is made in response to your specific needs and schedule.

We will provide you with the names and contact information of three or four clinicians, whom you will contact directly to schedule an appointment.

To find out about health insurance coverage for mental health services, please contact HUSHP Member Services at (617) 495-2008 or

More about Let's Talk

How is Let's Talk different from CAMHS?

Clinicians at CAMHS provide ongoing counseling, which usually consists of weekly or bi-weekly 45-50 minute appointments. Let's Talk is not formal counseling - it is a drop-in service where students can have an informal conversation with a clinician from time to time.

Let's Talk visits are confidential. Are there any limits to confidentiality?

Conversations with Let's Talk counselors are confidential, with very rare exceptions. Clinicians may need to share information in an emergency when there is an immediate threat of harm to self or others. Clinicians are required by law to report when a minor, elderly person, or someone otherwise incapacitated and unable to act on his/her own behalf is being abused. Let's Talk clinicians keep brief written notes of their contacts with students and, in the event that there is an emergency or a student is referred to CAMHS, other CAMHS staff may see these notes. Let's Talk visits are never noted... Read more about Let's Talk visits are confidential. Are there any limits to confidentiality?

What else do I need to know?

Although Let's Talk clinicians are professionals, Let's Talk is not a substitute for psychotherapy or formal counseling and does not constitute mental health treatment. Let's Talk clinicians provide informal consultations to help students with specific problems and to introduce them to what it's like to speak with a clinician. Your Let's Talk clinician can help you determine whether formal counseling at CAMHS would be useful for you and, if appropriate, assist you in scheduling an appointment.

What happens during a visit to Let's Talk?

Appointments are first-come, first-serve. Students are encouraged to talk about whatever is important to them. The clinician will listen closely to your concerns and provide support, perspective, and suggestions for resources. 

What is Let's Talk?

Let's Talk is a program that provides easy access to informal, confidential conversations with clinicians from CAMHS. Clinicians hold walk-in hours at designated sites around campus. There is no appointment necessary and no fee for the service.  

Who should visit Let's Talk?

This service is open to all Harvard students. Let's Talk is the best fit for students who:

  1. are not sure about counseling and wonder what it's like to talk with a clinician;
  2. are not interested in ongoing counseling but would like the perspective of a clinician;
  3. have a specific problem and would like someone with whom to talk it through;
  4. have a concern about a friend and want some thoughts about what to do.

It Gets Better

"It Gets Better" from Students at Harvard College

"It Gets Better" from Students at Harvard College