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Each year, more than 600 college students are treated at McLean Hospital. These young people come from more than 200 different colleges and universities to address a broad range of issues and psychiatric illnesses. Today, more than ever, students with proper support, skills, and symptom education are thriving while learning to cope with mental health and adjustment issues.
The College Mental Health Program (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 specialties 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:
Through student-focused services for students receiving treatment throughout McLean Hospital, CMHP works closely with students and with 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 meetings with individual 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 patient education outpatient services to students who are struggling to co-manage their mental health and academic lives. Our facilitator-led support sessions provide opportunities for students to collaborate with peers while learning necessary skills for managing stigma, strengthening campus support and relationships, and assessing 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.
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.
Dr. Stephanie Pinder-Amaker has recommendations for parents in this college mental health checklist.
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.
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. Bridge to Campus helps students with mental health challenges prepare for a successful transition 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 apply to college or preparing to transition to college from high school or a gap year. It may also be appropriate for students returning to college from a leave of absence or for those who are contemplating a transfer to a new college.
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:
Potential suggestions created from each student’s personalized assessment include:
Regardless of a student’s home state or college location, Bridge to Campus 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.
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.
Many students and parents also take advantage of the 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, and 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.
We offer a number of resources to college students and parents, including comprehensive guides to help manage treatment expectations.
The College Mental Health Program offers a range of services designed for college and university administrators, student affairs professionals, and mental health providers.
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 a comprehensive framework: The CMHP Wellness Index for Student Equity (WISE).
The CMHP WISE model is a valuable resource for institutions of higher education and secondary schools.
Through customized recommendations and trainings, CMHP can help your school increase resources to support student mental health. WISE supports students and families to help them find equitable, inclusive, and comprehensive care in their academic pursuits.
A core value of the WISE framework is to develop resources based on actual student and school needs.
By understanding more about your school’s strengths, challenges, and considerations, we can help you improve your resources to reflect these goals.
There are many benefits of being part of the CMHP WISE community:
Inspired by the groundbreaking work of the Human Rights Campaign Healthcare Equality Index (2019), the CMHP has developed WISE—a detailed measure to assess best practices of student mental health.
As a student-focused service, the WISE model reflects key milestones of the student experience, from pre-admission through transition out.
By emphasizing the importance of institutional considerations, like assessment, culture, policy, and intervention, WISE addresses proactive, ongoing, and reactive support for student mental health and wellness.
For example, at the admission/entry milestone, schools might consider assessments like early screening and detection. Culture considerations might include orientation content, reducing stigma, and resources for student with underrepresented identities, while policy considerations might include disability services/accommodations. During admission/entry, schools may want to have intervention services, such as resources for new students and proactive and responsive mental health supports.
Schools that become part of the WISE framework have full access to this tool to help them grow resources for every phase of the student experience.
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 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:
We can also focus on a range of specialty areas to design a campus consultation tailored to a specific college or university:
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.
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:
Please contact us to schedule a tour.
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 college mental health programs or to make a referral, please contact:
Students or their parents/guardians or treatment providers can fill out and submit the College Mental Health Program Referral Form so that we can gather needed information about the student and desired services.
For more information regarding clinical services available at McLean Hospital for college-aged individuals, please call 800.333.0338.
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.
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.