News | Jan. 18 5:56 pm EST

Mental health at Yale

Illustration by Ashley Lee

It turns out Columbia students aren’t the only ones who are unhappy with their school’s mental health care system. Yesterday, the Yale Daily News published a weekend lead article about how Yale students have been disappointed by long wait times and unhelpful staff: A Yale College Council report showed that 31 percent of students who received help from the school’s Mental Health and Counseling Department rated their experience as “poor” or “very poor.”

The Yale Mental Health and Counseling Department employs 28 mental health clinicians, 22 of whom work full time, to treat Yale’s student body of almost 12,000. Columbia’s Counseling and Psychological Services, by contrast, employs 38, 33 of whom work full time, to treat a student body of over 29,000. According to data from 2012 from the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, both schools have two to three times as many health professionals per student as do institutions of similar size.

So why are wait times still so long?

Yale promises a wait period of three days between a student’s “intake” call and their being matched up with a therapist or professional, but students frequently wait more than a week—and one student waited over a month.

Richard Eichler, executive director of Columbia’s Counseling and Psychological Services, said the average wait time from when a person calls CPS to their first appointment is 5.67 business days. But some Columbia students have said they experienced longer-than-expected wait times—an issue Columbia College Student Council and other student groups are looking into.

Both schools’ services are nevertheless very busy. Yale’s Mental Health and Counseling Department sees about 1,000 of its 5,000 undergrads per year, and it’s estimated that over 50 percent of undergraduates will visit the MH&C at some point during their time at Yale. CPS drop-in centers recorded a similar 1,000 visits last year, and Eichler said that 50 percent of the class of 2013 visited CPS in their time at Columbia.

Students at both schools report feeling confused when faced by the seemingly labyrinthine systems in place, and both schools see students deterred from seeking treatment by the fear that they might be asked to take a forced medical leave and by rumors of general bad experiences.

Here’s the link to the full article.




  1. Anonymous • January 18, 2014 at 7:53 pm • Reply

    Yale and Columbia students are smarter, better educated, more informed, and have less feelings of taboo of mental health than most college students. Columbia has a separate mental health division at the medical center.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 7 votes)
    • Anonymous • January 18, 2014 at 9:20 pm • Reply

      yeah we’re so much better than other dumb schools

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  2. Anonymous • January 19, 2014 at 2:25 am • Reply

    long wait times is just what you get when you have free/already-paid-for health care for a population. Ask any Canadian.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +3 (from 7 votes)
  3. A current CU grad student • January 19, 2014 at 8:28 pm • Reply

    It was very easy for me to get an appointment at CPS, not confusing or “labyrinthine” at all . A wait time of less than a week for non-emergency service doesn’t seem “long” to me. CPS (and the rest of the facilities available at CU and also through our health plan) seems great to me. Better than any employer provided health care plan I’ve had, and much much better than when I was self employed. I am very skeptical of this article – it seems CPS is being judged using a perfect, rather than realistic, set of expectations.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)

Leave a Comment

Be nice. Don't use HTML tags. And consider reading our full comment policy.