In a college-wide email this afternoon, Director of Yale Health Paul Genecin announced three new initiatives and updated students on two ongoing measures that he said will address student concerns about access and quality issues pertaining to mental health and counseling services.
As the spring term drew to a close, dissatisfaction with MH&C services mounted, and complaints about slow referral times and inconsistent access to services were voiced to Yale Health administrators. Over the summer recess, Genecin and Yale Health Chief Psychiatrist Lorraine Siggins responded to those suggestions by planning a series of improvements to MH&C services, Generic wrote.
“I received excellent suggestions for improving services at [MH&C] from the Yale College Advisory Committee to [MH&C], the Yale College Council and our patients,” he wrote. “We’ve been working on many of these suggestions over the summer.”
Genecin wrote that Yale Health’s staff of 28 psychologists, psychiatrists and clinical social workers will be supplemented by three additional clinicians. He said the health center will continue to actively recruit mental health clinicians they deem well-qualified and added that he expects that access to clinical services will continue to improve.
Yale Health also addressed concerns about the transition from students’ first appointments to their regular treatment. Now, students who seek mental health treatment will meet with a clinician to discuss their concerns, treatment preferences and goals, before deciding how to move forward and in what format. Genecin noted that many students will retain the clinician they meet during their intake appointment
Scheduling inefficiencies will be tackled using an electronic scheduling pilot this fall, Genecin reported. Students will be able to use their computer or cell phone to schedule appointments with their clinicians securely. Only a limited number of MH&C clinicians will be able to take part in this service, but the hope, he said, is that this service will expand department-wide by the end of the year.
Scheduling can still be done by phone following the launch of the pilot.
The MH&C website, sharply criticized by students from the college and graduate schools, has been updated, Genecin said.
“The site clarifies our services, provides resources, and helps you explore options for assistance with mental health concerns,” he said, adding that it is also easier to navigate now.
There is now a video series, which Genecin could be especially useful for students accessing MH&C for the first time.
In a different email to students at Yale’s graduate and professional schools, Genecin said he looks forward to working closely with the students in the Graduate and Professional Student Advisory Committee to MH&C to address issues particular to graduate students. This committee is yet to be appointed by the Graduate and Professional Student Senate and Graduate Student Assembly.
Genecin also announced that the Office of the Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews have been working with the input of students and faculty to launch the Student Wellness Project at Yale — a project that seeks to promote a “compassionate campus culture” and includes a Health and Wellness website — which soft launched on April 28.