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Free mental-health services available to MSU Denver students starting this fall

When the new mental health fee is implemented in fall 2018, all Health Center at Auraria office visits for mental health appointments will be free for all MSU Denver students. Photo illustration by Alyson McClaranMetropolitan State University of Denver students voted on a new mental-health fee in April, and 72 percent of Roadrunners approved the measure to bolster a number of services at the Counseling Center and the Health Center at Auraria.

The $45-per-semester fee will cover unlimited use of mental-health services for students, a new full-time psychiatrist position, increased salary for clinicians to reduce turnover and recruit high-quality employees, and outreach and educational services to promote the new services.

“This is awesome, particularly on the psychiatric side – students will have access to top psychiatric services at no additional cost, regardless of their insurance. We’re removing a cost barrier that can be otherwise very difficult to overcome,” said Braelin Pantel, associate vice president for Student Engagement and Wellness and dean of students.

Here’s the full list of benefits:

1. Removal of cost and insurance barriers

When the new mental-health fee is implemented in the fall, all Health Center at Auraria office visits for mental health appointments will be free for all MSU Denver students. This represents a historically unprecedented change for Health Center at Auraria services. Access to lower-cost prescription medications will also be available.

Previously, students seeing a psychiatrist at the Health Center at Auraria were charged a $126 fee for their initial appointment and $42 for each follow-up visit. Students average eight to 10 visits per diagnosis. 

A consequence of the free mental-health visits is that students who participate in exclusive insurance networks such as Kaiser and Medicaid (about 8,000 MSU Denver students) will now be able to access mental-health care at the Health Center at Auraria, since it will be a free service, eliminating any restrictions associated with health insurance.

In addition, all office visits at the Counseling Center will continue to be free. 

2. Expanded availability of additional mental-health medications

The mental-health fee provides needed resources for the Health Center to add new prescription medications available to students at more affordable rates.

3. Additional appointment times for students

The mental-health fee provides resources:

a) to hire additional mental-health clinicians, making it possible to access more timely appointments;

b) to acquire dedicated personnel for mental-health campus-outreach activities, freeing up the most 
highly trained clinical personnel to be more readily available to see students for individual mental 
health appointments; and

c) to be able to add additional appointment slots per week at the Counseling Center by having 
adequate personnel to provide services during lunch rotations.

4. Improved campus safety and quality of campus life for all students

The mental-health fee provides needed resources to enable students struggling with behavioral or mental-health issues to be seen in a timely manner by trained professionals. This improved access can reduce the escalation and severity of symptoms for the student in need, while simultaneously limiting potential adverse outcomes to the entire campus community. 

5. Improved access to attain required medical documentation for academic accommodations

The mental-health fee provides needed personnel resources to reduce the wait time for such appointments. This will enable students with short- and long-term disabilities to obtain the required clinical documentation in a more timely manner when academic accommodations are sought. 

6. Dedicated and increased mental health educational outreach

The mental-health fee provides for personnel to expand on-campus educational services. This enhanced educational program will focus on topics of alcohol and substance abuse, effective coping strategies, stress reduction, suicide prevention and additional mental-health resources, including a variety of wellness-related topics important to students.

During business hours, call 303-615-9988 to set up an appointment with the Counseling Center or 303-615-9999 for the Health Center at Auraria. The Health Center also provides a 24/7 crisis line through Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners at 303-615-9911.