Welcome to Mental Health Services (MHS) at Washington University. MHS is committed to providing a safe, inclusive and affirming community of care for all students.
Our interdisciplinary team fosters personal, emotional and academic well-being by offering comprehensive therapeutic services, outreach and prevention programs.
Updates to MHS Services
(Last updated 5/28/20)
During this unprecedented time, MHS remains committed to supporting students’ mental health and wellbeing.
We want to help and support you during this challenging time. We are offering brief phone support, online counseling sessions, consultations on accessing mental health care in your area, and medication management. Our services currently differ depending on whether you’re residing in Missouri or residing out-of-state and abroad. If you’re not sure what you need, please give us a call at (314)935-6695 or email MHSCoordinator@wustl.edu and we’ll point you in the right direction.
Please contact us at (314)935-6695 to request an appointment. If you call and get our voicemail, please follow the prompts and we will get back to you.
Available to students meeting all of the following criteria:
- Currently enrolled full-time and paid the University’s health and wellness fee.
- Reside in Missouri (this may change if laws are revised during this national emergency).
- Meet the screening criteria put in place by MHS providers.
- Spring 2020 graduates who meet the above criteria will remain eligible for Zoom counseling appointments through July 31, 2020.
If you are a returning client, message your therapist through the student portal.
If you are a new client, call 314-935-6695.
Additional information on MHS Distance Counseling services, including structure and limitations of counseling sessions, scope of eligibility and more:
For discussion with your counselor at the time of your first Zoom tele-mental health appointment:
Available after 4:00 p.m. weekdays, all weekends, and holidays. Call (314)935-6666 and follow the prompts.
Therapist Assistance Online (TAO) offers treatment for mild to moderate anxiety and depression, including concerns and stress due to the pandemic.
If you no longer remain in Missouri, we recommend you seek care in your local community. Learn more about how to find a therapist in your area. If you need assistance accessing resources, you may request an appointment with our Care Manager to help you identify local providers. To do so, please call (314)935-6695.
Psychiatric medication management is available to students meeting the following criteria:
- Currently enrolled full-time and paid the University’s health and wellness fee
- Have previously seen a Habif psychiatrist during the 2019-20 academic year
- Students whose current clinical issues or problems are related to the problems for which they have already been treated
Due to federal and state laws, Habif psychiatrists cannot prescribe some medications in some states even for patients meeting the above criteria. In those cases, you and your provider can discuss the options for treatment. If you develop new symptoms or problems that do not appear related to the symptoms you have previously experienced, your Habif psychiatrist may request that you see a local provider. Similarly, if your medication needs become too complicated for distance management, your Habif provider may request that you see a local provider.
If you currently have an appointment scheduled with your psychiatrist, please contact your psychiatrist via secure messages on the student portal, or call (314)935-6695 to discuss whether you should keep your appointment as a phone or Zoom appointment with your provider. Your psychiatrist may be able to continue your medication prescription even without a phone call or Zoom encounter. If you are seeking to transfer your prescription to a local pharmacy, please contact your psychiatrist via secure message to provide the name and dose of the medication or medications that you need and the name, address with zip code and phone number of the pharmacy that you would like to use.
- As always, please call (314)935-5555 in an emergency if you are on campus, or call 9-1-1 if you are in the United States off-campus.
- Our after-hours support line will be in operation for the duration of the academic year and is a resource for all students experiencing a mental health crisis. This can be accessed by calling (314)935-6666 after 4:00 p.m. on weekdays, on weekends, and holidays.
- Accessing other crisis resources: you can find urgent care units, hospitals and community clinics in your immediate area who offer care for urgent mental health issues as they come up.
- National crisis hotlines and online services:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
- The Trevor Project (LGBTQ Suicide Hotline): 1-866-488-7386
- Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
- Crisis Text Line for Students of Color: Text STEVE to 741741
Mental Health Services at Habif Health and Wellness Center is committed to providing exceptional, confidential and inclusive care for all students, with the goal of working collaboratively with students and the greater campus community to improve overall personal development and quality of life.
A word about confidentiality
Confidentiality is often a concern of someone who is considering counseling. The MHS staff is firmly committed to the code of confidentiality and ethics of professional practice; therefore, complete privacy can be assured UNLESS the student is a danger to themself or others. Without permission of the student, mental health records are not available to anyone outside or within the university.
- MHS provides clinical services to all full-time Washington University Danforth Campus day students who have paid the Student Health and Wellness fee. Spouses or partners of full-time students are not eligible for individual counseling or psychiatric services. Spouses or partners are eligible for couples counseling if their spouse/partner has paid the Student Health and Wellness fee.
- Students who take an approved medical leave and have paid the Student Health and Wellness fee for the current semester may continue to be seen in MHS for that semester. Exceptions may be made for international students when services cannot be accessed in the local community in their native language, but are available at SHS.
- Upon graduation, students are eligible to be seen until December 31st for the Fall semester and May 31st for the Spring semester.
- During summer break, currently enrolled students are eligible to receive services regardless of credit hours, as well as continuing students who are enrolled full-time for the upcoming fall semester.
- Consistent with its mission to provide only clinical services to students, MHS does not undertake forensic evaluations (e.g., court-ordered custody evaluations; evaluations for eligibility for disability or emotional support animals, etc.) or make forensic recommendations or provide expert testimony.
The first step for most students seeking mental health services is a brief, confidential phone conversation (called a screening) with a MHS staff member.
Individual counseling provides a private, confidential setting for students to resolve personal difficulties and achieve personal growth. MHS offers couples counseling to help partners develop new ways of relating to each other. To be eligible, one partner must be a full-time Washington University Danforth Campus student.
If you are a new undergraduate student, we highly encourage you to check out SET TO GO, a resource for guidance in transitioning your prior mental health support from home to campus.
Washington University is committed to responding as quickly as possible to any mental health emergency on campus. A mental health emergency is an emotional or behavioral crisis that warrants same-day or immediate attention by a mental health professional.
Psychiatry services involve the prescription of psychotropic medications by a medical doctor and are available at MHS on an as-needed basis.
Medical management of ADHD is available to qualifying students.
The Student Health Services staff takes a comprehensive approach to evaluating and responding to students’ eating and body image concerns. Our team includes professionals who have particular experience and interest in this area.
Group Therapy offers students an opportunity to identify with others who have similar personal difficulties or concerns. Workshops and classes offered by MHS provide an engaging platform for learning and practicing new skills related to mental health.
Our Let’s Talk program provides students with easy access to free, brief, confidential consultations with MHS counselors as they host walk-in hours at 5 sites across campus during which students can stop by when convenient – no appointments needed.
TAO is a seven to nine week, interactive, free web-based program that provides well-researched and highly effective treatment to help overcome anxiety, depression and other common concerns.
Habif is passionate about providing high quality services in a caring environment that is affirming of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
This guide is meant to provide some information and insight for students looking for off-campus mental health services.
Washington University’s Habif Health and Wellness Center offers programs, workshops, class presentations and training opportunities for the university community.
- Crisis Text Line – Free 24/7 support for anyone in crisis (If you are a student of color, type STEVE as your keyword rather than HOME.)
- ULifeline – Complete a self-assessment at Ulifeline to learn telling insights about your current state of mind. The Self e-Valuator provides a valuable and objective perspective if or when you’re struggling with troubling thoughts.
- Online Assessments for:
- Eating Disorders
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- The Unabridged Student Counseling Virtual Pamphlet Collection
- WashU’s Chapter of Active Minds on Campus – Active Minds on Campus, a student-run mental health awareness, education, and advocacy organization.
- National Mental Health Association
- Rethinking Drinking – facts about alcohol and other drugs
- ASK LISTEN REFER is a Washington University Suicide Prevention Training Program designed to help faculty, staff and students prevent suicide by teaching you to:
- identify people at risk for suicide
- recognize the risk factors, protective factors and warning signs of suicide
- respond to and get help for people at risk
- The mission of National Students of AMF is to support college students grieving the illness or death of a loved one.
Limits to Mental Health Services
Brief Therapy Model
Mental Health Services (MHS) strives to provide short-term treatment in order to help students: 1) achieve their academic and personal goals, 2) cope with challenges, and 3) encourage personal growth. Our services are available to students whose concerns fall within our scope of practice. In order to meet the mental health needs of as many students as possible, students may be eligible to receive up to 9 individual or couples appointments per academic year. Group therapy is an exception. Clients may attend as many group sessions as desired.
We do our best to exercise clinical judgment in deciding when to facilitate a referral to other services on campus or in the local community. A difficult balance exists between providing sufficient services and meeting the demand for those services. Given our inherent resource limits, the wish for MHS to provide unlimited individual services must be balanced with what is reasonable to provide. We recognize that students do not all have the same level of financial resources. We strive to navigate the realities of what it means to provide good clinical care while also considering issues of safety, equity, and social justice.
Students whose needs cannot be accommodated within our treatment model will be referred to community resources. Referrals might occur immediately following the initial consultation. Referrals might also occur after some treatment and a further assessment has taken place. If you are unsure of whether counseling services provided at MHS are the best fit for your needs, the counseling staff welcomes the opportunity to meet with you to discuss your individual situation.
Our brief individual counseling model is designed to help students manage immediate problems and provide short-term therapy. These services are ideal for issues that have arisen recently or that are expected to resolve relatively quickly. We also offer brief couples counseling for students wishing to address communication, trust, or intimacy issues. Decisions regarding treatment recommendations are made by counseling staff in consultation with the MHS leadership team.
In addition to short-term individual and couples therapy, MHS offers a strong group counseling program with many helpful options. Counseling staff may often recommend group treatment as the preferred mode of treatment. While individual counseling is brief, students may participate in one or various groups throughout their time at Wash U. We run multiple groups each year. Some groups are specifically themed and some are aimed at more general concerns. Themed groups may include those for grief and loss, stress management, unhealthy eating or body image, or dissertation support. The typical group involves about 6-8 students, meets weekly for 60-90 minutes, and is facilitated by one or two therapists. Please see our group page for more information.
What We Don’t Offer
We can help many students with their concerns, but we are not a full-service mental health clinic. For those students whose presenting issues suggest a need for more open-ended counseling services, MHS staff can help to facilitate a referral for counseling close to campus.
Some common examples of issues that may be more appropriate to an outside referral include:
- Individuals with chronic mental health conditions that require longer-term, ongoing care
- Clinical presentations, such as some personality disorders, that indicate short-term therapy may be ineffective and/or detrimental
- A need or desire to be seen more frequently than MHS can accommodate. Most of our clients are seen 1-3 times per month
- High utilization of MHS crisis intervention services indicates that standard session frequency is inadequate
- Chronic suicidality and/or recent history of multiple suicide attempts
- Severe or chronic self-injury
- A history of multiple psychiatric hospitalizations
- Issues that require more specialized care than can be provided at MHS, including:
- Significant or chronic disordered eating symptoms posing a medical danger
- Significant or chronic substance use/abuse which compromises therapy
- Active symptoms of psychosis at risk for progressive deterioration
- Student concerns which require a specific type of therapy not practiced by the staff
- Student issues that tend to worsen in short-term counseling
In addition to the reasons indicated above, some other reasons why we may need to deny services or refer individuals to community resources include:
- Lack of motivation or engagement in treatment, as evidenced by:
- Inability to identify a treatment goal appropriate for brief therapy
- Inconsistent attendance
- Poor compliance with treatment recommendations
- Ongoing treatment relationship with another mental health provider
- Inappropriate, harassing, menacing, threatening, or violent behaviors
- Mandated or required treatment, including:
- Counseling ordered through legal proceedings, such as substance abuse treatment, alcohol education, anger management, parenting education, or domestic violence treatment
- Counseling required by employers, government agencies, academic departments, or university judicial sanctions
- Individual counseling initiated only to earn credit for a class
- Comprehensive psychological evaluation of any type, including but not limited to:
- Neuropsychological evaluations
- Forensic assessments
- Custody evaluations
- Assessment and documentation for service or support animals
- Fitness-for-duty evaluations
- Instances where a staff member determines that treatment would be detrimental to the client or to the proper functioning of the facility
When a community referral is the most appropriate treatment option, you typically will be provided with several options. The referral process may or may not include a meeting with the Mental Health Care Manager. To the best of the clinician’s ability, these options should address your circumstances regarding insurance, finances, and transportation.
Occasionally, MHS clinicians may provide services that extend beyond our scope of practice. These circumstances may include:
- Appropriate management of a crisis when a student’s eligibility for services has ended
- Coverage through upcoming graduation within the current semester
- Completion of treatment for clients making good progress, but needing limited extension of services
- Supporting high-functioning clients with chronic conditions on well-defined short-term therapy goals
- Treatment of eating issues followed by the eating disorders treatment team
Individuals who believe their circumstances represent an exception to the MHS scope of practice may submit a petition for an exception to the policy. A committee led by the MHS Associate Director will review all petitions and must approve any exceptions granted.
Note: A separate psychiatry scope of services statement applies to students seeking medication management for mental health issues.
In order to maintain the availability of quality psychiatric services for students with immediate mental health needs/crises, Habif does not provide testing services for the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD. See more information on the treatment of ADHD at Habif. For referral information to testing services in the St. Louis community, please call 314-935-6695.
There may be situations in which Habif clinicians deem it appropriate to support accommodations for students under their care, however it is important to note that Habif clinicians provide documentation supporting accommodations only within the context of a treatment relationship.