Students Satisfied with Mental Health Care, Survey Suggests

The majority of students who sought treatment for mental health care at Harvard University Health Services last year felt satisfied with their experience and said they would be willing to recommend their clinician to a friend, according to the results of a patient satisfaction survey released at a UHS-sponsored “Community Conversation” Tuesday night.

The UHS-administered patient satisfaction survey included responses from the approximately 1,000 students who used Mental Health Services in the past year. 74.5 percent of students said their treatment was helpful, 73.8 percent said they would personally recommend their clinician to a friend, and 73 percent reported they would seek treatment again if they found themselves under the same circumstances.

While only 37 percent of students reported receiving an appointment within the first week of making contact with MHS, Chief of Student Mental Health Services Katherine A. Lapierre said improvements have already been made to MHS in response to the mental health portion of the data.

“Today, 75 percent of students get their first appointment within a week. If you’re suffering, you shouldn’t have to wait that long,” Lapierre said.

Some of the changes implemented in the past year, according to Lapierre, include the hiring of an additional psychiatrist, the hiring of an additional therapist, and a reevaluation of the way clinicians manage their caseloads.


In addition to policy changes and increased staffing, Director of Harvard University Health Services Paul J. Barreira announced that students with Harvard-sponsored BlueCross insurance are now eligible for 40 visits to outside clinicians per year. Last year, the number of outpatient visits was capped at 24, and two years ago, the cap stood at 12 visits per year. There is no cap on the number of visits for clinicians at UHS.

Following a presentation of the statistics, students offered their own ideas to improve UHS mental services. These suggestions included direct email communication from UHS and increased visibility of mental health services through posters.

Students thought the event offered an important forum through which to engage with administrators about mental health.

“I thought it was a fantastic beginning to what I hope is an ongoing, sustained discussion,” said Richa Gawande, a mental health advocate and graduate student at the School of Public Health.

The full results of the annual survey will made available on UHS’s website within the coming days, according to Barreira. In addition, UHS plans to co-host a panel on identifying depression in November.

—Staff writer Quinn D. Hatoff can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @QuinnHatoff.


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