Psychiatric Services at CAPS

  • CAPS psychiatrists are specialists in providing college mental health services to the UCSD campus of over 35,000 students. The equivalent of 2 full-time psychiatric physicians serve as consultants to providers at both CAPS and Student Health Services (SHS).
  • All of the services provided meet the guidelines of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), Medical Board of California, International Association of Counseling Services (IACS) and American Association for Ambulatory Health Care Inc. (AAAHC).
  • Given the ratio of one psychiatrist for every 18,000 students, our primary goal is to help stabilize urgent and emergent psychiatric conditions in the student population with an emphasis on preventing further deterioration and when possible, avoiding hospitalization.
  • When time permits, psychiatrists also provide specialty mental-health consultation, education and collaboration regarding students to Student Affairs staff, including Residential and Academic Deans.
  • To review our psychiatric team, please visit our Staff page.

Psychiatric Services Provided

  • Available services include initial comprehensive psychiatric evaluation, risk assessment, psychopharmacologic assessment, interim medication management, and psychiatric consult-liaison services.
  • After initial consultation, most students are referred to community-based providers, using the student’s health insurance.
  • CAPS psychiatrists do not initiate nor continue prescriptions for psycho-stimulant medications.

Integrative & Collaborative Care

CAPS psychiatrists work in tandem with the psychologists at CAPS and primary care providers at Student Health Services (SHS) to:

    • Support UCSD students’ academic success and personal development
    • Remove barriers to ongoing mental health treatment
    • Refer students to qualified, specialty mental health care in the San Diego community for optimal continuity of care
    • Mentor residents, psychiatry fellows and psychology post-doctoral fellows involved in mental health care delivery, based on empirical evidence and best practices
    • Advocate for mental health for the students, faculty and staff within our campus community

Eligibility for Psychiatric Services

  • Psychiatrists may provide individual services to individuals who are undergraduate, graduate and professional school students at UCSD, who have paid their current student services fees.
  • In addition, students must be in treatment with a Primary Care Provider (PCP) located at SHS or CAPS [PCP includes: psychologist, post-doctoral psychology fellow, primary care physician, nurse practitioner, social worker].
  • Referral to a CAPS psychiatrist can only occur after evaluation by a PCP as listed above.
  • Referral to a psychiatrist located at SHS can occur only after evaluation by a SHS PCP.
  • Non-urgent or longer term treatment beyond CAPS short term treatment guidelines, will utilize off-campus psychiatric providers funded by the student’s required comprehensive health care insurance. 

Responsible Use of Psychiatric Services

  • Given the ratio of one psychiatrist for approximately 18,000 students, we ask students and families to utilize these services responsibly, for the well-being of individual students and the community at large.
  • For instance, students who transition to UCSD and require ongoing psychiatric medication management need to plan ahead.
  • Please discuss options with your current, treating psychiatrist and devise a plan that insures you do not run out of your medication and thereby risk relapse.
  • Also, please anticipate at least a one month wait before you obtain an appointment with a San Diego community-based psychiatrist using your insurance plan.

CAPS Documentation of Services

The mission of UC San Diego Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is to provide counseling and mental health services to all enrolled university students. We assist students with life challenges and mental health problems. We encourage students to come to CAPS for counseling and when they are having personal crisis.

However, many of our initial appointments are being increasingly taken up by student whose sole interest is in acquiring a written document to support an adjustment to an academic obligation, administrative appeal or exception from a university regulation. The demand for these documents has reduced the availability of appointment for students who are seeking counseling services.

Therefore, CAPS will no longer provide requested documentation of a personal difficulty at the initial contact or appointment. CAPS Services Documentation Forms may be provided, at the discretion of your psychologist, at follow-up counseling appointments only. An additional reason for this policy is that documentation is of limited accuracy when it is based on only a single interview.

If documentation is provided, it will describe a student’s psychological symptoms, diagnosis and personal difficulties. It will not suggest a specific accommodation such as an adjustment to academic requirements or the need to comply with university regulations. Such accommodations are determined by the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD).

CAPS encourages students to register at the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) if they believe that they have a mental health condition that warrants accommodations. CAPS will provide documentation to OSD about your current or past mental health condition if counseling services are or were provided. If current or previous services were provided by an off-campus mental health professional, then those providers must supply information to OSD about your condition.

CAPS suggests that if you would like a one-time only adjustment to a specific academic course obligation, you should initially contact the professor/instructor and explain the circumstances that might warrant such an adjustment.