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Mental Health

Welcome to Mental Health Services (MHS) at Washington University in St. Louis. Our professional staff members work with students to resolve personal and interpersonal difficulties, many of which can affect their academic experience. These include conflicts with or worry about friends or family, concerns about eating or drinking patterns and feelings of anxiety and depression. Staff members help each person to figure out her or his own situation, through individual, group and couples’ counseling, crisis counseling and referrals.

Making an appointment

      New Appointments

The first step for most students seeking mental health services is a brief, confidential phone conversation with a MHS staff member. The purpose of the conversation is to clarify and assess your needs, and explore options for next steps.

The telephone assessment can be scheduled online through the SHS portal

If you would like your screening to occur face to face versus by phone, you must arrive 10 minutes early at SHS and use the kiosks to check in. The counselor will greet you in the waiting room at the scheduled time.

Brief assessment phone appointments are scheduled for the same day or the next day if the request occurs late in the day and there are no more available appointments.

      What To Expect

At the scheduled appointment time, you will receive a call from a MHS staff member for a 10 minute conversation. The staff member will ask several questions about your situation and talk with you about available options that may be appropriate for you. These might include:

  • Scheduling a routine appointment with a MHS staff member  
    During periods peak demand, the waiting time will grow. If you do not wish to wait, we can help facilitate a referral to a community provider.
  • Getting you into one of our MHS groups which many students have found to be supportive and effective assistance for addressing their concerns
  • Scheduling you for an urgent appointment if your need is more serious (usually within 1-3 business days)
  • Referring you to a community mental health provider. This can be a good option for students who want open-ended therapy, prefer to pursue counseling off-campus, or want to begin a counseling relationship immediately during those times of the year when immediate access to MHS may be limited due to high demand

    We rely on you to help us understand the nature and urgency of your needs. Please be as open as you can during this phone conversation. 

     Return Appointments

After the first appointment, follow up appointments may also be made online. Please understand that routine appointments must be scheduled in advance in order to find a time that works for both you and your therapist or psychiatrist. Counseling return appointments can be made as far as six weeks out, and up to three counseling return appointments can be scheduled at any given time. During periods of very high demand, you may experience a delay in scheduling a return appointment. We appreciate your patience.

Urgent appointments

In the event of a crisis, during normal business hours, please either come directly to SHS or you may call us at 314-935-6695 and identify the situation as an emergency. If you are contacting us after business hours, call 314-935-5555 if you are on campus or 911 if you are off campus.

Before your appointment

Psychiatric consultation

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and medical treatment of mood, anxiety and learning disorders. Physical conditions may often mimic psychiatric disorders. MHS psychiatrists will confer with medical staff and provide comprehensive care to the student. Medications are prescribed when indicated and are monitored carefully.

The first step in scheduling your first visit with a psychiatrist is a brief telephone assessment. The telephone assessment can be scheduled online through the 
SHS portal.

In the interest of best serving students during periods of peak demand, students wishing to transfer the management of existing psychiatric medication from a home doctor to SHS may do so until November 1 for the fall semester and April 1 for the spring semester. Please note that available appointment slots may fill up several weeks in advance of these deadlines.

Requests to switch your provider

Requests to change your mental health provider can be made until November 1 for the Fall semester or April 1 for the Spring semester. To request a change, please contact the MHS coordinator at 314-935-6695. These changes cannot be made online.

Referring a student to services off campus

When needed or requested, every effort is made to find appropriate referrals and help students make contact with them. If you prefer to pursue support for yourself off-campus and would like assistance with identifying appropriate mental health referrals, please call 314-935-6695. ​​

Scope of Services Statement

In order to offer services to as many students as possible, the MHS professional counseling staff provides short-term, time-limited counseling services. In keeping with the mission of the Division of Student Affairs, MHS strives to provide short-term treatment in order to facilitate adjustment, improve functioning, achieve resolution of problems, and address acute symptoms impairing personal functioning as soon as possible.

For those students whose presenting issues suggest a need for more open-ended, ongoing counseling services, the staff of MHS can help to facilitate a referral to private mental health care close to campus. Counseling services provided through MHS are not an appropriate substitute for open-ended, intensive psychological services. Some common examples of issues that may be more appropriate to an outside referral include, but are not limited to the following:

        • Student issues that require regular weekly appointments throughout the semester
        • Student concerns which require a specific type of therapy not practiced by the staff
        • Student difficulties which require open-ended, ongoing psychotherapy before coming to Washington University
        • Student issues that tend to worsen in short-term counseling

If you are unsure of whether or not 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.