Yale Daily News

One month after its launch, the Yale School of Medicine’s Student Mental Health and Wellness Program is aiming to grow and provide enrolled students with short-term individual therapy and counseling. 

Since 2015, many students at the School of Medicine have pushed for improved access to high quality mental health care, expressing how critical it is to have access to resources and support. In early October, then-Associate Dean of Student Affairs Nancy Angoff, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Sam Ball and Deputy Dean for Education Jessica Illuzzi announced the new pilot program which will be located at 2 Church St. South. 

“The program provides more immediate access to mental health care for students with mild-to-moderate symptoms or acute adjustment issues, by having a social worker and a psychologist embedded in the school,” Angoff and Illuzzi wrote in a joint email to the News. 

The program offers short-term individual therapy, including consultation and counseling, in a wellness setting. Structured around a model used by other parts of the University, including the Law School, School of Drama and Yale College, the program offers up to four individual therapy sessions and assists students with the transition to ongoing care with Yale Health or Magellan Health, an additional mental health service provided by Yale Health. 

The Student Mental Health and Wellness Program focuses on providing more immediate mental health care to students with mild-to-moderate symptoms or acute adjustment issues, such as role stress, grief or relationship changes. Additionally, one of its main aims is to develop wellness programming by working with students and student groups to address needs related to time and stress management, coping skills, well-being, resilience and self-care. According to Illuzzi and Angoff, the plan is to facilitate groups and wellness seminars around topics of interest to students. 

Yale Health will continue to provide treatment for those students with mental health conditions requiring ongoing cognitive or pharmacologic therapy and those in acute crisis situations. In addition, only providers licensed to prescribe medication may provide pharmacologic therapy to patients; these providers are accessible at Yale Health by appointment.

Lisa Ho currently serves as the program manager and the sole member. She brings more than eight years of experience working with families and individuals of color and specializes in treating anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. 

“My vision for the Mental Health and Wellness Program is that it will be a welcoming place for students who need support, a program that will be responsive to students’ immediate and non-crisis needs and a stepping-stone for students who may not have engaged in therapy or wellness before and are curious to learn more,” Ho wrote. “My hope is that by utilizing the Program, students will feel supported and less isolated, gain skills to manage anxious thoughts and develop increased resilience in the face of challenges.”

Ho has partnered with several student organizations and regularly meets with the Committee on the Wellbeing of Students, an entity of students from the medical school that advocate for better mental health resources, to understand and tailor the program to students’ needs. She has also planned future meetings with the Yale School of Medicine Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Community Engagement and Equity, or DICE, and various student affinity groups. 

By the end of the year, the Yale School of Medicine hopes to hire two additional part-time staff for the program: a psychologist and a wellness counselor to support students.

“It is hard to predict how many students will use the program’s resources,” Angoff and Illuzzi wrote. “The program is set up as a pilot so that the school can monitor how it is used and then determine if adjustments are needed.”

The Yale School of Medicine is located at 333 Cedar St.

BRANDON WU