Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I should use Mental Health Services (MHS)?
Just about anyone can benefit from taking the time to reflect on their life to gain greater insight or self-awareness. We recommend that students and trainees contact the clinics within MHS if distress in their life has increased to the point where their ability to function is compromised or if their overall life satisfaction is not where they want it to be. If worries or your mood are negatively affecting your ability to go to class, manage your academic obligations, and/or to be engaged in and enjoying your life, counseling could help.

How can a workshop help me?
Workshops are designed to promote health and well-being by teaching skills that increase students’ ability to handle stress and emotions. These skills are often more effectively taught online in a group setting that allows participants to practice the new skill. Workshops offer a good starting place and may be sufficient to address your concerns. Learn more about workshops by visiting this page.

How can a group help me address my concerns?
Groups allow participants to address their concerns through engagement with others. Some groups provide opportunities to explore personal issues and interpersonal relationships in a setting where honest feedback, reflection, and support from peers can occur; others provide a space for discussion, exploration, and providing support around common experiences. Groups are especially effective for those interested in exploring their interpersonal style and enhancing their approach to relationships in such areas as trust, intimacy, anger, conflict, assertiveness, taking risks, and improving self-esteem.

What is individual counseling and can it help me?
In individual counseling, you will talk one-on-one with a counselor in a safe, caring, non-judgmental, and confidential environment, either in-person or online through Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (Zoom), which is HIPAA and HITECH Act compliant. During your sessions, you will have the opportunity to explore feelings, beliefs, or behaviors, work through challenging or influential memories, better understand yourself or your relationships with others, identify aspects of your life that you would like to change and work toward desired goals. Counselors can help you in a variety of ways because they are excellent sounding boards, compassionate listeners, and skillful experts in problems of living.

Can I trust that Mental Health Services will be confidential?

Our staff is ethically committed to confidentiality and federal and Maryland laws protect the confidentiality of information shared in counseling. However, it is important to note that the law does require that confidential information be disclosed in several circumstances:

  • in instances where there is imminent danger of serious harm to you or to others, a counselor may reveal information to prevent harm;
  • in cases where child abuse or abuse of a dependent adult is made known, the counselor must report the abuse; and
  • when mandated by a court order, information would be released.

Is there a limit to the number of counseling sessions I can receive?
Mental Health Services provides short-term oriented counseling but there is no set limit to the number of sessions you may receive. The majority of students are seen for 4-5 sessions. If it is clear at your initial consultation or during the course of your treatment with Mental Health Services that you want or need longer-term care, we will assist you in finding a resource in the community that better fits your needs.

Will my parents, faculty, and/or others be informed that I am being seen at Mental Health Services?
Only if you have signed a written release of information for Mental Health Services to communicate with a specific person(s). The exceptions relate to the limits to confidentiality as described above.

How long will I wait until I can meet with a counselor for an initial consultation during remote drop-in hours?
There may be a brief wait for services, depending on the time of the day that you call for the remote drop-in hours; however, most students are seen for same-day consultations.

Counselors are available daily (at all times of the day, during and outside of remote drop-in hours) to provide crisis intervention services to students. In addition, at all times, students, staff and faculty can contact the JHU Behavioral Health Crisis Support Team (BHCST) at 410-516-9355.

How will I be assigned to a counselor if I am referred to brief individual therapy?
At the conclusion of the initial consultation, if brief individual therapy appears to be an appropriate treatment option, appointments for ongoing therapy will be scheduled. These may depend on your schedule and availability, as well as counselors’ schedules. If you are interested in meeting with a particular counselor (or if you have been referred to a specific counselor by a friend, professor, or administrator) please inform the counselor you meet with at the initial consultation visit and we will work to accommodate your preference. Our counselors are psychologists, licensed social workers, licensed counselors or doctoral interns who are under supervision of a licensed psychologist on staff.

How much do services provided by Mental Health Services cost?
There is no cost for services provided by MHS.

What can I expect counseling to be like?
Each of our counselors has a unique style and approach to therapy. However, we all share a commitment to providing you with an experience in which you feel understood, cared for, and not judged for what you are thinking, feeling, or doing. Our staff also care deeply about social justice and we are mindful of the difficulties faced by individuals who experience marginalization in our society. Within Mental Health Services, we celebrate difference and strive to have an open dialogue with students about how issues of diversity impact their lives and well-being.

Would I be able to get a psychiatric consultation if I need one?
MHS has psychiatric providers who are available for consultations and can prescribe psychotropic medications. If you are interested in considering medication as a treatment option, call during our remote drop-in hours and discuss your situation with one of our counselors, who will then refer you to one of our consulting psychiatrists, if appropriate.

If you are already in brief individual therapy, discuss your interest in considering medication as a treatment option with your counselor, who will then refer you to one of our consulting psychiatrists as appropriate. The MHS staff will decide whether a person will need to be in counseling in order to receive prescriptions from one of our psychiatric providers.

What is the difference between a counselor and a psychiatric provider?
Counselors and psychiatric providers all work in the mental health field. Counselors (which include psychologists, social workers and mental health therapists) receive many years of supervised therapy experience and within MHS, counselors provide talk therapy. Psychiatric providers may receive a medical degree or special certification in psychiatric nursing (for example, M.D., D.O., CRNP-PMH) and prescribe medication. Within Mental Health Services, all counselors and psychiatric providers actively consult with one another to promote the most effective mental health treatment for JHU students and trainees.

Is couples counseling available with Mental Health Services?
Yes, if both people are Johns Hopkins students or trainees eligible to receive services with MHS.

Can Mental Health Services staff help me find a therapist off-campus?
Mental Health Services staff can assist students and trainees with locating and connecting with mental health services off-campus in the community. We can help you find a provider who will accept your medical insurance and be able to address your needs. Please contact the MHS offices for information and assistance.

What if I have a concern or complaint regarding my experience with Mental Health Services?
Mental Health Services provides several ways to express a concern or complaint about an experience.

Firstly, students and trainees have the opportunity to provide us with input on the feedback forms provided after a first appointment and then during the two weeks in the Fall and again in the Spring when all ongoing clients are asked to provide feedback on their experience.

Secondly, we encourage students to openly discuss with their counselor any concerns they may have.

Thirdly, if a student feels it is important to voice their concern or complaint to someone other than their counselor, we encourage them to contact the Chief Mental Health Director, Dr. Jennifer Howes (jhowes2@jhu.edu) to discuss their concern or complaint.