College Mental Health Program
Treatment and consultation services to support the college experience.
Each year, McLean Hospital treats college students from more than 200 different college and universities These students engage with McLean and the College Mental Health Program (CMHP) to address a broad range of issues and psychiatric illnesses.
The CMHP helps college students with mental illnesses and adjustment issues live more productive lives by providing the highest level of mental health care and working closely with college student-patients, their families, and their institutions of higher education to ensure the greatest probability of academic and personal success.
CMHP offers a diverse range of services to help students address concerns such as executive functioning, anxiety, depression, OCD, eating concerns, and substance use. Our team works collaboratively with students and their families to provide and implement individualized recommendations based on the student’s unique needs and goals.
The College Mental Health Program is ideal for:
- College or university students who are struggling with their mental health
- Friends worried about a peer who is receiving treatment in a psychiatric hospital
- Parents of a college student who is struggling with mental health or adjustment to campus life
- Mental health professionals interested in learning more about McLean Hospital’s resources for college students
- College or university administrators motivated to support students more effectively through practice, policy, and programming
Through student-focused services, CMHP works with students both currently receiving treatment at McLean Hospital, as well as students with no prior connection to McLean.
For students receiving treatment throughout McLean Hospital, CMHP works closely with students and their institutions of higher education to support both mental health and academic goals. When students enter a treatment program, we get involved as a resource to the overall treatment team. CMHP services can include symptom education groups, consultation to treatment teams, and individual meetings with students planning to return to college or preparing to take a medical leave of absence.
In addition to the services we provide within the McLean community, we offer academic consultation, transition support, and outpatient services to students who are struggling to co-manage their mental health and academic lives. Our outpatient services provide opportunities for students to better understand strengths and areas of growth, build adaptive skills to help manage the demands of a college environment, enhance campus supports and relationships, and assess readiness to increase academic and social demands.
When students have mental health crises, parents often feel overwhelmed and unsure about how to help. Frequently, parents need help addressing their adult child’s mental health and educational needs simultaneously. CMHP is dedicated to also providing support for parents during these challenging times.
CMHP in the News
Read more about supporting college students in our article A Parent’s Guide to College Student Mental Health.
Read about the college transition in the article Mental Health Issues Overlooked in College Transition.
Learn more about the College Mental Health Program’s newest services: college readiness consultation service and individual coaching.
Student and Family Services
CMHP offers individualized support for students with mental health concerns who are interested in gaining skills to manage their mental health symptoms and academic goals. Our services are open to students currently enrolled in college, on a leave of absence from school, or seeking support in their transition to college for the first time. The program offers a range of services, including consultations, weekly meetings to facilitate a seamless transition to college, campus visits, and individual or group coaching on “well-student” skills. CMHP has worked with more than 200 different colleges and universities around the country and is uniquely qualified to help students connect with the appropriate college mental health resources available.
Services are provided on McLean’s Belmont campus and, in some cases, at the student’s college or university. CMHP’s core services include:
- Bridge to Campus College Readiness Consultation
- College Skills Coaching
- Psychoeducation Support Groups
Bridge to Campus College Readiness Consultation
For many young adults, the transition to college can be an unsettling or even anxiety-provoking time. For those with mental health issues, this life phase can be even more challenging and may create a set of concerns. Our college readiness consultations helps students with mental health challenges prepare for a successful transition, or return, to college and provides guidance in achieving academic and personal growth. These consultations are ideally suited for students affected by mental illness who are preparing to transition to college, considering a leave of absence, or contemplating a transfer or change in their plans for school due to mental health.
Through the consultation service, CMHP psychologists evaluate a student’s readiness for college life by using state-of-the-art assessments to develop individualized recommendations. We also work closely with college administrators to ensure that colleges are also prepared to support students with mental illness. Following this thorough evaluation process, the program team develops a comprehensive report that assesses in detail the student’s readiness to simultaneously manage college life and current mental health concerns, provides recommendations regarding the student’s support team and roles, and offers suggestions for a seamless academic and personal transition to college.
Our staff bring an unprecedented level of expertise to students and their families in understanding the many complex issues that can arise during this time in a young person’s life. The focus is to help students develop the skills they need to successfully manage their mental health challenges while adjusting to the demands of academic and campus life. Such concerns may include identifying campus resources, managing stigma, addressing procrastination and test anxiety, and maintaining healthy self-care.
Consultations are provided based on the particular needs of each student and include:
- One to two 50-minute meetings with the student to gather information about history, mental health concerns, previous school experiences, and goals using state-of-the-art assessments to create individualized recommendations
- One 50-minute meeting with the student and parents to explore family concerns and perspectives, review the student’s academic and mental health records, learn about previous interactions with treatment providers or key support people, and assess if individual medication and therapy support will be needed
- Thorough review of the student’s academic and mental health records, including phone contact with current treatment providers, if appropriate
- Comprehensive written report detailing assessment of the student’s preparedness to manage college life and current mental health concerns, recommendations regarding the student’s support team and their roles, and suggestions for a seamless academic and personal transition to college
- One 50-minute student and parent feedback session in which the assessment is summarized, goals are clarified, and step-by-step suggestions for everyone involved are outlined
Potential suggestions created from each student’s personalized assessment include:
- Ways to minimize academic setbacks caused by mental health conditions
- How to use a leave of absence to build independent living, academic, and mental health management skills
- Recommendations on making use of on- and off-campus resources to enhance well-being
- How to advocate effectively for accommodations and other resources
- Suggestions for how to talk to friends, acquaintances, and professors about your mental health
- Advice as to whether specific colleges or types of college environments will have the necessary resources and services to help maintain stability
Regardless of a student’s home state or college location, a college readiness consultation can help by clarifying the student’s struggles, needs, and goals, and identifying services available at their college or in their city of residence. If parents are not able to meet at McLean Hospital, sessions can be conducted by phone; however, it is recommended that students meet the program’s psychologists in person in order to build the best possible collaboration.
Due to the fact that Bridge to Campus does not involve clinical treatment, services provided are not covered by health insurance plans. The cost for the Bridge to Campus service is $2000, with psychologists available to provide additional recommendations and information following consultation, if needed. The fee for each additional individual 50-minute meeting is $200.
With expert guidance, planning, and the proper resources and strategies in place, the program aims to assist students with mental health challenges to be highly successful in achieving academic goals and personal growth while enjoying a fulfilling college experience.
College Skills Coaching
Many students and parents also take advantage of CMHP’s individual coaching sessions, which address six skill set categories:
- Social/interpersonal skills
- Executive functioning (organization and planning)
- Navigating campus resources and policies
- College transition
- Self-care and wellness
- Parent support
The specific areas are determined by student needs, and some students may benefit from coaching in more than one area. Students can also opt to continue individual coaching long distance, allowing for continuity throughout the college transition.
Psychoeducation Support Groups
These weekly psychoeducation—education focused on teaching individuals about their conditions—group sessions are designed to offer coaching and support to students for co-managing student life and mental health and are best suited to students currently enrolled in college, on leave of absence, or transitioning to college.
Participation involves attending weekly sessions to cultivate social skills and learn specific strategies for navigating and utilizing campus resources, managing stigma and relationships, and developing positive self-care as a student. Sessions take place on McLean’s Belmont campus.
Patient and Family Guides
We offer a number of resources to college students and parents, including comprehensive guides to help navigate the process of treatment as a college student.
- Student Guide to Mental Health Treatment
- Parent Guide to Student Mental Health Treatment and Hospitalization (PDF)
University Professional Services
The College Mental Health Program offers a range of services designed for college and university administrators, student affairs professionals, and mental health providers.
Wellness Index for Student Equity (WISE)
In response to the changing landscape of college mental health, increasingly diverse student populations, and an elevated need for services, the CMHP’s leadership team developed multiculturally informed, comprehensive framework: the CMHP Wellness Index for Student Equity (WISE).
The WISE model addresses needs, concerns, and goals identified in collaboration with colleges and universities and was developed to reflect key milestones of the student experience and journey. Across each milestone, important institutional key considerations are included. By emphasizing the importance of assessment, culture, policy, and intervention, the WISE model addresses proactive, ongoing, and reactive support for student mental health and wellness.
The CMHP WISE model is a valuable resource for institutions of higher education and secondary schools, as well as for students and families to find equitable, inclusive, and comprehensive care in their academic pursuits.
Benefits of being part of the CMHP WISE community include:
- Taking a proactive stance in addressing evolving student mental health challenges
- Assessing campus areas of strength and growth and receiving tailored recommendations to address needs
- Enhancing campus culture and reducing stigma
- Improving the experience, engagement, and retention of students, family, and staff in relationship to mental health and greater campus culture
- Engaging in continued education and implementation of best practices for transdiagnostic student-focused care
- Accessing in-person and web-based specialized trainings
- Being recognized as a WISE Campus for your commitment to equity, inclusion, and comprehensive care
A core value of the WISE framework is to develop resources based on student and school needs. By understanding more about your school’s strengths, challenges, and considerations, we can improve our own resources to reflect these goals.
If you are interested in being a WISE partner, contact us today.
As institutions of higher education seek to address the evolving mental health crisis in preventive and innovative ways, we offer consultations regarding effective resources, programming, policies, and practices. We bring direct higher education administration experience in college mental health systems and extensive clinical expertise to the challenges facing college campuses. CMHP is uniquely positioned to address national trends as we treat hundreds of college students from over 200 colleges and universities each year. Our approach considers each campus’ unique climate and culture when working to create a comprehensive and coordinated mental health system that serves the evolving needs of college students.
Campus consultations may include:
- Visit to campus
- Evaluation of existing campus mental health system and concerns
- Individual and group meetings with various administrators and mental health providers
- Facilitated student focus group sessions
- Opportunities for confidential input from key college constituents
We can also focus on a range of specialty areas to design a campus consultation tailored to a specific college or university:
- Improvements to existing campus mental health system
- Engaging student media for responsible coverage of campus suicide and prevention efforts
- Case management programs for enrolled, high-risk students
- Strategies and systems for addressing campus crises and critical incidents (e.g., deaths, accidents, suicides, stalking)
- Strategic design, placement, and introduction of mental health educational resources
- Decreasing campus stigma
- Effective collaboration with student mental health organizations
- Strengthening coordination of campus services and communication on behalf of at-risk students
- Strategies for effective academic and mental health advocacy within the context of confidentiality, right to privacy, and fear of stigma
- Interpreting FERPA and HIPAA
- Establishing a “stigma-free” zone in the Dean of Students office—why it matters in mental health
- Engaging parents appropriately
- Working more effectively with unique student populations (e.g., international students and their families, GLBTQIA community, student athletes, first-year students, students who disclose mental illness post-admission, students with serious mental health concerns)
- Strategies for implementing an effective mental health withdrawal and readmission process and policy
- Integration of multicultural variables into campus mental health outreach, prevention, and intervention
McLean Hospital College Database
The college database is an electronic clinical resource unique to McLean Hospital. The database provides critical information to help us work with students and their schools in the most effective and coordinated manner possible. Each participating school has supplied the hospital with important information including best campus contact, preferred campus protocol, the school’s policies for supporting a student’s return to campus post-hospitalization, and available campus resources.
With this information at our fingertips, McLean clinicians can design aftercare plans that incorporate the student’s specific campus resources. The college database content is for McLean Hospital use only.
To see if your college has completed the survey for inclusion in our database or to update an existing profile, please contact CMHP. Please include your name, position, and college/university.
McLean Hosts: Schedule a Tour
CMHP staff have welcomed mental health professionals and administrators from over 50 institutions of higher education to McLean’s Belmont campus. These half-day visits allow us to engage more directly with the institutions whose students we serve and to improve support of students navigating both hospital and college systems. College mental health professionals and administrators who want to learn more about our college mental health services, the range of clinical services that McLean offers, and the ways we can work together most effectively on behalf of students are encouraged to participate.
Each tour is designed to address the needs of the visiting schools and may include:
- An overview of McLean’s College Mental Health Program and dialogue about challenges colleges face when supporting students with mental health concerns
- An opportunity to walk through the McLean admission process
- Dialogue with directors of programs that serve young adults
- Time to ask specific questions and provide feedback about your campus trends, needs, challenges, and how we can work together in the future
Please contact us to schedule a tour.
Invite CMHP to Your Campus
In keeping with our objective to strengthen new and existing relationships with the college mental health community, CMHP staff frequently visit with college administrators, mental health professionals, and students on their campuses. Strong campus-community partnerships are necessary for supporting the growing mental health needs of students. By touring campuses and engaging with college professionals and students, we can learn about their unique challenges, culture, and needs.
Please contact CMHP to request a visit to your campus.
The College Mental Health Program is ideal for young adults who are seeking skills to co-manage mental health issues and academic life.
For more information on our services to support college mental health or to make a referral, please contact:
As a reminder: please do not send any confidential information via email.
For additional information regarding all of McLean’s clinical services, including those for college-aged individuals, please call the hospital’s intake and admission team at 617.855.3141.
For general information, or to schedule a McLean campus tour or a campus visit by CMHP staff, please contact:
Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, PhD, Program Director
Dr. Pinder-Amaker has over 25 years of experience in college student mental health treatment, administration, and policy. She lectures and conducts workshops throughout the country on strengthening continuity of care and on how to bolster communication between campus- and community-based systems, eliminate barriers to mental health treatment, and better support marginalized students.
Caitlin M. Nevins, PhD, Director of Psychological Services
Dr. Nevins is involved in the clinical, research, outreach, and training initiatives of the program, with an emphasis on supporting students as they balance their mental health and goals for school. Her clinical and research interests include the etiology, trajectory, and treatment of disordered eating. She is particularly interested in the relationship between disordered eating and history of trauma.
The College Mental Health Program staff is a compassionate and dedicated group of psychologists who specialize in working with college, graduate, professional, and non-traditional age students as they navigate their mental health and goals for school. Each staff member is trained in evidence-based practices, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), which they use in both their individual and group work with students. Our staff have extensive experience working with patients from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and are dedicated to providing culturally informed care and services.
Coupled with the known fact that many mental health issues often emerge during an individual’s early twenties—with the onset of most mental illnesses peaking from ages 18-21—the college experience can be challenging for individuals who are co-managing mental health issues and the rigors of academic life.
Research in the area of college mental health allows health care and academic professionals the opportunity to learn more about this unique period in development and work to improve treatments and supports for this population.
Learn more about research publications from the College Mental Health Program.