Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Mason offers limited, short-term, psychiatric services. Only students who are enrolled at Mason and are actively involved in individual counseling at CAPS may be eligible to receive psychiatric services at CAPS. On some occasions, students require more intensive/specialized psychiatric treatment that is beyond the scope of what we can provide. If this occurs, we will work with you to establish care with a mental health provider in the community.
Psychiatric services are provided by appointment only. There are no psychiatric appointments after hours or on weekends. If you are experiencing a psychiatric/medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room. Please note that psychiatric providers are at CAPS on a part-time basis and will be available most days during regular business hours to address concerns of current patients by telephone. All calls placed to the CAPS psychiatric providers during regular business hours will be processed through the front desk staff. Please be aware that messages may not be received on a daily basis. If your needs are urgent, please inform the support staff when you leave your message.
If you would like to make an appointment with a psychiatric provider for an evaluation, you need to first make an appointment for an initial consultation with a CAPS counselor. The counselor will assess your situation and, depending on your needs, if a psychiatric evaluation is clinically appropriate and/or recommended the counselor will assist you in making an appointment with one of our psychiatric providers or with a mental health provider in the community.
If you are currently in counseling at CAPS, your therapist may also recommend that you receive a consultation with a psychiatric provider. A consultation may be recommended in order to clarify a diagnosis, for an opinion regarding your current treatment, or for consideration of the use of psychotropic medications. If a psychiatric evaluation is clinically indicated, your counselor will coordinate the consultation appointment. Depending on your needs, you might meet with a psychiatric provider at CAPS or with a mental health provider in the community.
The first appointment for a psychiatric evaluation is scheduled for 90 minutes. Please bring all medications and contact information for your primary care physician, any past psychiatrists, therapists, and pharmacy information to the evaluation. You may be asked to sign a release of information form for us to obtain your treatment records from previous providers. We will mail or fax this request promptly but it may take a few weeks for us to obtain the records depending on the response time of your former mental health provider. Depending on your case, previous records might have to be reviewed prior to being accepted for medication monitoring.
During the initial evaluation, your psychiatric provider will review your concerns and will develop a preliminary treatment plan. If you agree with the treatment plan, then a decision about ongoing treatment, possibly involving the use of a medication, will be discussed. Subsequent appointments will then be scheduled to discuss how well the medication is working and if any modifications are needed.
You will continue to be monitored by your psychiatric provider as long as you are compliant with your treatment plan, enrolled at Mason and receiving counseling/case management at CAPS. Follow-up appointments with psychiatric providers are usually 20-30 minutes in length. The frequency of the appointments may vary, but are often as frequent as every 2 to 4 weeks when initiating treatment with a medication. Once stable on a medication regimen, as deemed by your psychiatric provider, you will be provided with referrals to mental health providers in the community for ongoing medication management.
CAPS does not provide psychological testing services. If you have been previously diagnosed with ADHD, you must provide documentation of the diagnosis from the clinician who made the diagnosis in order to be considered for medication treatment at CAPS. Documentation must be in the form of an evaluation, treatment summary and neuropsychiatric testing supporting the diagnosis. You will have to ask your previous provider to send us the documentation for review to determine whether it is adequate. If the documentation is deemed insufficient, then neuropsychological testing will be required prior to meeting with a CAPS psychiatric provider for further evaluation. If, after the neuropsychiatric evaluation is complete, it is the opinion of your psychiatric provider at CAPS that you might have ADHD, then the decision to medicate and what kind of medication to use will be made by the psychiatric provider. It is our policy to choose the appropriate medication with the least potential for abuse. The psychiatric evaluation may take several weeks and is in no way a guarantee that medication management will occur. If you do not wish to wait for this evaluation, then a list of referrals for mental health providers in the community will be provided.
Medications and Lab Work
Medication(s) will be prescribed only when it has the potential to benefit you and is deemed appropriate by your psychiatric provider. It may be necessary that certain tests, such as lab work, EKG's, or blood pressure checks, be completed prior to the start of medications or for continued prescriptions. If you are not able to follow through with these tests, it may be necessary to consider discontinuation of treatment. It is expected that you provide a complete list of all medications that you are taking at every office visit. Please also notify your psychiatric provider of any new medical problems or new drug allergies.
If you are receiving medication(s) at CAPS, please note that prescription refills will not necessarily be given if you have not been attending regular appointments as recommended by your psychiatric provider. It is your responsibility to safeguard your medications. Lost prescriptions for medications will not be replaced more than once. If a controlled substance, such as a stimulant or benzodiazepine, is lost or stolen, it may not be replaced. It may be necessary for the psychiatric provider to consider alternative treatment options if you are unable to safeguard your medications.
No Shows, Late and Missed Appointments, Cancellations
Since your appointment is reserved for you, and therefore not available to another patient, we ask that you cancel at least 24 hours in advance when necessary. If you are late for your appointment, your appointment ending time may not necessarily be extended, and it is possible that instead you may be asked to reschedule (this would then be considered a missed appointment). If you do not reschedule or make contact with the office within 2 weeks of the missed/cancelled appointment, it will be assumed that you are no longer interested in continuing psychiatric treatment at CAPS. You may then receive a letter notifying you of intent for termination of treatment if you do not contact CAPS immediately. Therefore, it is important to communicate your intentions to continue your treatment with your treating psychiatric provider if you cancel or miss your appointment. If you miss or fail to reschedule two consecutive appointments without 24-hours notice, or establish a pattern of frequent missed appointments, your treatment may be terminated.
Termination of Psychiatric Services
There may be many reasons for terminating treatment, such as a determination that treatment is no longer needed, a conviction that another psychiatric provider would be more effective, a geographical move, departure from Mason, noncompliance with treatment recommendations, or repeated missed appointments. Discharge from treatment may occur at any time and may be initiated by either the patient or the psychiatric provider. We recommend that a final appointment be scheduled if you are considering termination of treatment. This will allow for referrals, if indicated, and provide discussion of progress received to date, as well as reasons for termination. If you choose to terminate treatment in a less formal manner, such as repeated missed appointments without notice and/or failure to reschedule, the psychiatric provider will terminate treatment and you may be given the option to receive a refill for thirty days of medication coverage from date of termination, if clinically indicated. If your counseling at CAPS is discontinued, your psychiatric care will be transferred to another facility if you still require psychiatric services.