UW Graduate School

May 3, 2018

Where to find mental health resources for graduate students?

I would love to find mental health resources specifically for graduate students. I am on medicaid, and have had trouble finding a long-term counseling in the area. However, the counseling center also has a long wait time for appointments. I’ve considered going to support groups, but would prefer to be with people who are similar in age and have similar experiences. I would also prefer to go to a group not led by graduate students, as many of them are my peers/friends. Any advice?

–Jane

Hi Jane,

I’m glad you reached out to us. Your mental health is so important, yet it can be difficult to navigate all of the services at the UW and off campus — especially if you are already stressed and trying to go at this alone! So I applaud you for seeking support, and hope I can help you get on track to addressing your mental health needs.

I spoke with Natacha Foo Kune, director and psychologist at the Counseling Center, and she provided me with some new information that may help you.

You may already be aware of this — so forgive me if you are — but in January, the Counseling Center made some changes to allow for more same-day intake appointments (an initial appointment to assess your needs and create an action plan). Same-day appointments are available at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. every weekday except Tuesday. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so you should plan to call at 8:30 a.m. to schedule an appointment for that same day.

If you’d like to schedule an appointment further in advance, you can call the Counseling Center during normal business hours (8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday). The wait time for a pre-scheduled appointment is currently one to two weeks. The Counseling Center focuses on providing short-term counseling, group therapy and mental health workshops. 

You said you are mostly interested in long-term counseling or group support. The Counseling Center can help you to find appropriate long-term counseling off-campus in two ways: you can schedule an intake appointment to meet with someone and discuss a referral, or you can ask for referrals directly over the phone. In the latter case, the on-call counselor can give you referrals that accept Medicaid, as well as an idea of what to expect at several of Seattle’s mental health agencies. Natacha has recommended a few agencies that the Counseling Center has cultivated good relationships with; I have included these agencies in a list titled “Agencies that accept Medicaid” below. The Counseling Center also maintains a longer list of referrals on their own page. You may prefer to skip the step of contacting the Counseling Center and contact the community agencies directly, using this page as a guide.

What might be the benefit of calling the Counseling Center, as opposed to selecting an agency from their website on your own? The Center “can help demystify the process of getting connected with an ongoing therapist and answer questions,” Natacha explains. It’s also a good first step if you are unsure of where to start, what questions to ask or if you are delaying scheduling an appointment with a counselor. Trying to sort out the best option from an extensive list of providers can be an overwhelming task, so asking for a referral from the Counseling Center can help streamline that process and keep you on-track to getting the help you need and deserve.

A student with private insurance may also contact the Counseling Center to get a referral for counselors in private practice, tailored to their expressed needs.

Another mental health service on-campus that is accessible for students is Hall Health Mental Health Clinic. One difference between Hall Health and the Counselling Center is that Hall Health has psychiatrists and offers medication management options, while the Counselling Center does not. Another difference is that Hall Health will bill your insurance for services, while the Counselling Center offers all services free-of-charge. If you have GAIP, you will not have a co-pay for services at Hall Health. Both Hall Health and the Counseling Center provide short-term individual and group counseling.

As for support group options, The Counseling Center and Hall Health offer several therapy groups that are geared towards graduate students, including the men’s, Chewa and Beyond Labels groups. These groups are facilitated by clinical staff at the Counseling Center, so you will not have to worry about a fellow student running the group. The groups are no longer taking new members at this time, but they will reopen in the fall. The Counseling Center may also be able to refer you to support groups off-campus, if you are interested. The Counseling Center also offers several drop-in mental health services, such as “Let’s Talk” and mindfulness-based workshops. Please see a full list of these services below.

If you prefer to go about finding a provider independently, here is a list of providers in King County who accept Medicaid. On this website, many providers write short bios about their therapeutic methods and approach as well as areas of specialty, so you can get a sense of who will best fit your needs. As well, this flyer provides basic information and contacts for accessing mental health services through Medicaid.

I know this is a lot of information and that addressing your mental health concerns can be a daunting task. The good news is you’ve already taken a step in reaching out to me; keep taking it one step at a time and I’m sure you will find services that will suit your needs.

Please do not hesitate to reach out again if you have any questions or concerns.

All the best,

The Grad School Guru

Agencies that accept Medicaid:

Drop-in Mental Health Workshops:

Mindfulness for Daily Living
Thursdays,  2-2:45 p.m. (please note new time), Thursdays (through the last week of class), 401 Schmitz Hall
This workshop led by Ron Ma will focus on mindfulness practices. Mindfulness meditation is a practice that helps reduce stress, anxiety and depression by cultivating greater self-awareness and a sense of inner peace.

Mindfulness for Anxiety, Depression and Trauma
Several Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, 2–2:45 p.m., 401 Schmitz Hall.
This workshop by Caitlin Stanaway reviews the symptoms of generalized anxiety, major depression and post-traumatic stress disorders. Participants can learn about Dialectical Behavior Therapy (focused on building skills in the areas of mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotion regulation) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (focused on how thoughts, mood and behaviors interact). Goals of this workshop are to increase understanding of mental health symptoms, generate effective coping strategies for continued practice and specify personal goals and/or goals for treatment.

Let’s Talk
Tuesdays, 2-4 p.m., Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center, with Iris Song
Wednesdays, 2-4 p.m., Q Center in the HUB, with Kate Fredenberg
Offered during the 10 weeks of each quarter.
These drop-in consultations with a counselor helps students figure out if counseling is a good option for them. A collaboration between the Counseling Center and Hall Health Center.

Mental Health for the People
Friday, June 1, 3 p.m., 401 Schmitz Hall.
This new quarterly workshop series with Andrea Salazar is focused on mental health topics from a social justice perspective. The topic for spring quarter is The Impact of Colorism on Communities of Color.

Other resources:

Facebook-based support group for graduate students who are parents
UW Graduate Student Facebook group

Ask the Grad School Guru is an advice column for all y’all graduate and professional students. Real questions from real students, answered by real people. If the guru doesn’t know the answer, the guru will seek out experts all across campus to address the issue. (Please note: The guru is not a medical doctor, therapist, lawyer or academic advisor, and all advice offered here is for informational purposes only.) Submit a question for the column →