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Psychiatric Services

The SHC is pleased to be able to offer psychiatric care to students through our psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Psychiatric care can only be scheduled by calling the Student Health Center at 202.885.3380. You will need to select option 1 and then option 3.

The main focus of psychiatric care at the SHC is the management of psychiatric medications. If you or your therapist thinks psychiatric medication might be helpful to you, or you would like to discuss the option of medication, you may set up an initial psychopharmacology evaluation. This initial evaluation, scheduled for forty-five minutes, is an opportunity for the prescribing clinician to hear about your current problem and symptoms, and to assess if medication is appropriate. This visit is also a time for you to ask questions about psychiatric medication, learn about medication options, possible side effects, risks and benefits, as well as non-pharmacological options.

If you are a student interested in counseling and psychotherapy, please contact AU's Counseling Center by phone or stop by their office to schedule a confidential appointment with a counselor. The Counseling Center can also provide referrals to psychiatric and psychological care in the community. The University's Counseling Center also addresses all urgent psychiatric emergencies. You can reach them at 202.885.3500 or find them in MGC 214.

When making an appointment with the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner a specific appointment time is allocated for you. The Student Health Center has a generous cancellation policy that only requires two hour cancelation notice in order to avoid a missed appointment fee of $20. If you miss your appointment or are excessively late for appointments, the ability to provide you with quality care becomes limited.

Please be aware that psychiatric services are frequently in high-demand both at American University and in Washington, DC. There can be a 2-4 week wait to get an appointment to see the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. 

If students miss their appointments, they not only compromise their own care, but they potentially prevent other students from getting the help and treatment that they need.

In order to best serve the needs of the AU community with the limited psychiatric services available on campus, the student health center has enacted a missed psychiatric appointment policy as follows: if a student misses two or more initial intake appointments or 3 or more follow up appointments they will no longer be able to receive psychiatric care at the SHC. In order for them to continue their treatment, they will be given a list of providers in the community with whom they can establish care. To help provide continuity of care, the psychiatric NP will be happy to discuss the student’s care with a designated community provider with whom the student has established a new therapeutic relationship, provided that the student signs a release of information for her to do so.

The Student Health Center requires a complete psychoeducational or neuropsychological report with the components listed below in order to document ADHD for a student at American University.  This must be done by a medical doctor or a psychologist at the PhD/PsyD level who is trained in psychoeducational evaluation.   There are some local businesses which will employ social workers (eg. LICSW) to do a limited evaluation at a reduced cost. Please be aware that a report from an LICSW is not sufficient to establish a diagnosis of ADHD.  

If ADHD has been diagnosed by a medical doctor or PhD/PsyD psychologist, a report or letter from that doctor is acceptable. The report or letter must include all the criteria listed below, except for point 4, which may or not have been done by a medical doctor.

A report must include the following: 

1. Statement of the presenting problem

2. Relevant history from a diagnostic interview, including:

  • developmental

  • medical

  • academic

  • family

  • psychosocial

  • other previous and current diagnoses

  • results or copies of screening tools/assessments/questionnaires used for evaluation and diagnosis

3. Alternative diagnoses or explanations ruled out

4. Testing, including scores and discussion of results

5. DSM-IV diagnosis and rationale

6. Medication prescribed – both current and past, as well as response – adverse reactions and side effects

If a student cannot present the above documentation, the Student Health Center cannot authorize prescriptions for ADHD medication. In such a case, the Academic Support and Access Center can provide a list of psychiatrists in the community with expertise in diagnosing and treating ADHD. The Academic Support and Access Center can also arrange an initial, no-cost screening to assist in determining whether and where an evaluation might be obtained off campus.

You can learn more about the Academic Support and Access Center and how to request disability-related accommodations by stopping in at MGC 243, or reviewing the information at click here.

How do I schedule my psychiatric appointment?
To schedule an initial appointment, simply call us at 202.885.3380, press 1 and 3.

What should I bring with me for my first visit?
To make the most of your initial psychiatric appointment, please bring the names and contact information for any mental health care providers you have recently seen, as well as the names and dosages of medications you have been prescribed. 

If you have recently seen a mental health care provider, you'll be asked to fill out a release of information form so that the SHC can request your medical records from your previous provider. If you have copies of your medical records, please bring them with you.

What happens if there is an emergency after hours?
After hours mental health care emergencies are handled by the Counseling Center.  

On-campus residents who feel they're experiencing an emergency that represents a threat to safety or life should contact AU's Department of Public Safety at 202.885.3636. Public Safety will contact a Counseling Center counselor for an emergency consultation.

Students who live off campus and feel they're experiencing an emergency that represents a threat to safety or life should contact their emergency response services, dial 911, or head to the nearest hospital emergency room.  

Are my visit and records confidential?

All medical records are treated as confidential information under applicable federal and state laws as well as university policies.

What is the cost for psychiatric care?

As it is a specialized service, there are different fees associated with psychiatric care at the SHC. An initial visit of 45 minutes costs $75, while a 20-minute, follow-up visit costs $35.

What happens if I can't afford psychiatric care?
If you can't afford psychiatric care, give us a call to schedule a meeting with our Director or Associate to discuss payment plan options. We're here to help and make sure you get the care you need.

I am currently taking medication for ADD of ADHD. How can I get my prescription filled at the Student Health Center?
In order to obtain your prescription for ADD or ADHD medication from the SHC, you have to submit documentation of testing and treatment to the SHC psychiatric nurse practitioner in advance. After the psychiatric nurse practitioner reviews your documentation, an SHC staff member will call you to schedule an appointment. Please review the Documentation Guidelines for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder section of our website for more information on the required documentation.

I am currently taking psychiatric medication and all I need is a refill. Can I do that at the Student Health Center?
If you're currently taking psychiatric medications and need a refill, you'll have to schedule an initial appointment with the psychiatric nurse practitioner. Based on your medical history, the psychiatric nurse practitioner will decide if your prescription can be obtained from the SHC or if you will be referred to a mental health care provider in the community for on-going treatment.