The University of Utah is pleased to announce counseling session fees are now a thing of the past for the U students. The U Student Mental Health Fee and other creative solutions have made this change possible. Session fees have been removed from nearly every service to expand access and remove barriers to mental health services.
The Student Mental Health fee was implemented in 2018 and each student now contributes $15 per semester as part of their tuition and required fees. That $15 is shared across the Center for Student Wellness, the Center for Disability and Access, the Women’s Resource Center and the University Counseling Center.
“Much of the credit for these service advancements goes to the many, many, tremendous student leaders and their advocacy efforts over the years,” said Lauren Weitzman, director, University Counseling Center. “Thanks in large part to the Student Mental Health fee the Counseling Center has seen a 75% increase in staff since 2014.”
Two fees remain however for appointments where medications will be prescribed. The Psychiatric Medication Evaluation is a one-time fee of $50 and $10 for all remaining sessions. However, no eligible person will be denied service for financial reasons.
The following Counseling Center services are free: intake appointments, individual therapy, couples therapy, group therapy, support groups, psychotherapy groups, skills groups, crisis appointments, case management and the Mindfulness Center services. Please note that a no-show fee may be assessed for missed appointments or appointments not canceled in advance.
To take advantage of these services students must be currently enrolled in at least one credit hour and be seeking a degree. This has been reduced from a six-credit hour requirement per semester for undergraduate students. Again, the goal is to increase access while reducing barriers to services.
Did you know?
The University of Utah Counseling Center offers a generous 12 session limit to those who utilize its services. Most centers in the U.S., similar to the U, have a limit of just four sessions per student. The average number of sessions utilized by U students is 6 sessions. But the most commonly utilized number of therapy sessions is just one.
Many individuals find they need only one session, the initial intake appointment, to meet their needs. They are able to identify and access the resources they are seeking and don’t feel a need to schedule another appointment.
“We’ve found that there are lots of ways to address the concerns students are experiencing,” said Josh Newbury, interim clinical director, University Counseling Center. “We have the Mindfulness Center which has no session limits and free registration. We’ve recently implemented a support group for international students during these stressful times. A ‘Coping with Chaos’ drop-in series to help deal with stress. And support groups and group therapy sessions are just as effective—and possibly more effective during the pandemic—than individualized treatment and don’t have the same session restrictions.”
A growing trend for new hires at the University of Utah are embedded employees with dual reporting structures. The primary benefit for departments? They both split the salary to accommodate two different budgets and both get a top-tier candidate they can afford. Human Resources has recently embedded HR experts across campus to great success.
The same concept has been adopted to hire mental health experts across campus. The colleges of Law, Engineering, Health Sciences and Equity, Diversity & Inclusion all have embedded counselors to support their students. Each embed split their time 50/50 between their college and the Counseling Center. Today, U students seeking mental health services have more access opportunities than ever before.
In fact, with the funding from the Student Health Fee and splitting the salaries of new counselors, the University of Utah is now meeting the International Accreditation of Counseling Services ratio for the first time in its history. The IACS ratio recommends one counselor for every 1,000 to 1,500 students. Today the Counseling Center has 1 counselor for every 1,349 students. This is a substantial step forward to increasing and maintaining the mental health for U students.
Among the ranks of the Counseling Center staff are the following 25 licensed positions.
- 11 psychologists
- 9 clinical social workers
- 3 clinical mental health counselors
- 2 psychiatric advanced practice registered nurses
The next embedded position will develop telehealth counseling support for degree-seeking students in the St. George Graduate Center and Sandy Satellite campus.
While Zoom has greatly expanded the ways students can access mental health services, there’s one hurdle it can’t gap. Students who are currently attending classes online and residing out of state are not eligible for these Counseling Center services. Counselors are licensed in the state they practice in and cannot treat patients across state lines. Out of state students may connect with the Counseling Center by way of a one-time intake appointment to help identify local support options and receive coaching on how to connect with health insurance providers—when available—in order to find in-network counselors. The center can also link out of state students with Mindfulness Center offerings and helpful apps.
When you do find yourself in crisis utilize the following services.
- Call the University Counseling Center at 801-581-6826.
- SafeUT App: The SafeUT Crisis Chat and Tip Line is a statewide service that provides real-time crisis intervention to youth through live chat and a confidential tip program—right from your smartphone. Licensed clinicians in our 24/7 CrisisLine call center respond to all incoming chats and calls by providing supportive or crisis counseling, suicide prevention and referral services.
- University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) Crisis Line: 801-587-3000.
UNI Crisis Intervention, Hospital Diversion, and Warm Line Services provide specialty programs to prevent mental health crises and support people through them if they happen. These programs support individuals struggling with mental health challenges and connect individuals to additional resources that can help them. The team of professionals is trained in mental health crisis management, suicide prevention, and emotional wellness.
- Woebot: Your self-care expert chatbot app
- The Trevor Project: the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) App: Test out a new app for anxiety, depression, stress and general well-being.
Listen to a podcast with President Ruth V. Watkins about the services offered by the counseling center here.