Mental Health Services

[There is one clip from a counselor on the DVDs and one from Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison who is a psychologist]

Mental Health Services for suicidal people often include some combination of medication and therapy directed at the underlying causes of suicidal thinking. Experts estimate that 90% of people who die by suicide have some form of a diagnosable mental disorder. Mental disorders such as depression and substance abuse are highly treatable, and yet are often the most common forms of mental disorders found in suicidal people. This brief overview outlines frequently asked questions about mental health services.

For Resources for Mental Health Service Providers, Click Here.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mental Health Services

What Should I Expect from Counseling?

Counseling is a confidential learning process during which you meet with a trained professional who can help you sort out your concerns, think through decisions and create personal goals. People who attend counseling do so for a wide range of reasons – from adjusting to college life to major mental and emotional disorders. The mental health professionals often work in a team to provide the best care for their clients, and they are bound by strict guidelines on confidentiality. During the first session you will be asked to describe your concerns and what you hope to gain from counseling. You might be asked a number of background questions in writing or during the discussion to help the professional more fully understand your situation. The session usually lasts about an hour after which you might be referred to additional resources if needed.

You will benefit the most from counseling if you come prepared to focus on a specific issue with a goal in mind and by being as open and as honest as you can. By participating actively and collaborating with your counselor you will increase your chances of learning new skills. You can expect your counselor to listen to your concerns and answer any questions you may have about the process. You might have “homework” to do in between sessions that will usually encourage you to try something new. Some counseling centers might have a fee associated with them or offer only a limited amount of sessions – ask these questions when you are making your appointment. At the end of the counseling process you should feel understood and encouraged, you should have more clarity and self-awareness regarding your problem, and you should have a direction for improvement and a plan to get there.

What Should I Know About Confidentiality?

Counseling records are kept confidential and separate from university records. With rare exceptions, no information is released to anyone outside of the counseling services, including other university offices, faculty, staff, or parents, without written consent. The exceptions to confidentiality include life-threatening situations when someone is in imminent harm to themselves or others or in cases of suspected child abuse or an appropriate court order. The counseling center staff may consult with each other about best forms of treatment for you.

How Should I Choose a Counselor?

Things to assess when choosing your counselor:

  • Credentials: Counselors should have a minimum of a Masters degree and should be licensed. On many college campuses, graduate level counselors are earning hours toward their licensure by working in the campus counseling center. Ask about these practices and how supervision is handled. Your counselor might be a psychologist (doctoral level – Ph.D. or Psy.D.), a social worker (MSW), or a counselor (MA). You may also work with a psychiatrist (MD) for therapy or medication.
  • Experience: Ask your counselor about their experiences working with your presenting concerns.
  • Fit: While the counseling relationship is not a friendship, it is important that you feel safe and trust that your counselor is competent. You do not have to settle for the counselor that is assigned to you. If it doesn’t feel right, ask for another provider.
  • Availability: How often will you get to work with the counselor? How long? What will happen if there is an emergency? What happens when school is on break?

FAQ: Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Why do you advocate only one number?

We advocate one prevention hotline (1-800-273-TALK) because this network is highly accountable; however, in training, the number may be difficult to memorize (people get the 1-800 part and the TALK part, but forget the 273), so be sure to repeat it often.

What happens when someone calls this hotline?

When you dial 1-800-273-TALK, your call will be immediately routed to the nearest available crisis center in their network. With more than 130 centers in the network, chances are good that the nearest crisis center will have up-to-date information on local resources. To learn more about the crisis centers go to

When someone answers your call, they will listen to your concerns and ask questions to help you as best as they can. If you are calling because you are suicidal, they can answer questions you might have about where you can go for help or they might talk you through a difficult time. You can also call if you are worried about someone you care about and they can help you figure out the best way to handle the situation.

How does the Suicide Prevention Lifeline work?

  • The call is toll-free from any phone in the United States (services are free)
  • The line operates 24-7
  • The hotline is answered by trained crisis call centers certified by a national accreditation association (e.g., AAS, JCAHO, CONTACT USA, CARF, AIRS, etc.)
  • Calls are confidential and crisis counselors make every effort to keep the identities of the callers private.
  • When calls are made from another state or area code, the crisis centers are able to make a “warm transfer” to connect the caller with resources closer to his or her current location.
  • Crisis call takers speak English (1-800-273-8255) and Spanish (1-888-628-9454) and through tele-interpreters, the lifeline can service over 150 languages (see for details)
  • TTY users, please use the TTY number: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)
  • Calls from 1-800-SUICIDE are also being supported by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s Network of crisis call centers.
  • The Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers organization free promotional materials (wallet cards, magnets, etc.) to distribute to increase awareness of the number.

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