Partnership Creates Joint Center for Mental Health Assessment and Referral

Construction will begin during the winter break and is intended to significantly streamline the process for students who wish to access campus counseling and psychiatric services.

Construction will begin during the winter break on a new referral-and-assessment center intended to significantly streamline the process for students who wish to access campus counseling and psychiatric services. The facility, which is scheduled for completion in early to mid-March, is located on the first floor of the Smithgall Student Services Building, more commonly known as the Flag Building.

The need for a single pathway for students to access campus mental health resources was identified by Georgia Tech’s Mental Health Task Force, and reiterated as part of the “A Path Forward — Together” initiative.

“We expect this new center to provide a significant improvement in helping our faculty and staff assist with the mental health needs of our students,” said Lynn Durham, associate vice president and executive liaison to the Path Forward — Together initiative. “Creating a single point of entry is going to reduce wait times and improve how we provide care to our student population.”

Georgia Tech has two primary mental health care providers — the Counseling Center, operated under Tech’s Division of Student Life, and the Psychiatry Clinic, a service of Stamps Health Services. Those two units already work together, but the new referral-and-assessment center will provide a single point of entry where students can come in, discuss their needs with a counselor, and formulate a treatment plan as part of their initial visit.

The initial design and concept were developed as part of the planning process for the new Student Center. With completion of that facility still a few years off, the leadership in Student Life and Campus Services (John Stein, vice president for Student Life and dean of students, and JulieAnne Williamson, interim vice president for Campus Services) began brainstorming about how to speed up the timetable. The result is the renovation and expansion of the joint center, which is scheduled to open in March 2019.

“This collaborative effort is a true partnership that will bridge two major providers of mental health support in one location,” said Stein. “Students will be able to come in, speak with a mental health professional, and leave the meeting with a plan of next steps to support their well-being.”

Current plans are to add a director and two full-time counselors who will staff the new center. Mental health professionals from Georgia Tech’s Counseling Center and Psychiatric Clinic will serve the new center on a rotating basis. This new structure is expected to better utilize the expertise of the counseling and psychiatric staff, and allow them to serve more students.

“Both of our organizations are excited to come together in a unified way to address affordability, accessibility, availability, and timeliness of mental health services on campus,” Williamson said.

At present, the center has no formal name, but Georgia Tech’s Student Government Association and campus student organizations, such as the Mental Health Student Coalition, have been invited to offer suggestions for what the facility might be called.