Psychiatric Medications and Psychiatry

Medications often can be helpful to students struggling with depression, anxiety and other emotional concerns.

We have a strong commitment to helping students understand their difficulties and to offering a range of options. Our psychiatric clinicians (psychiatrists and nurse practitioners) can meet with students to determine which medications might be helpful and to recommend a course of treatment. Students interested in an evaluation for psychiatric medication need first to meet with a counselor in either Counseling & Psychological Services or Social Services. Counselors will help a student evaluate the range of available treatment options and arrange for a psychiatric assessment when deemed appropriate. UHS medical clinicians can also refer students for a psychiatric evaluation when appropriate. 

Medical Evaluation

Our psychiatrists can meet with students for an evaluation to determine whether or not medications may be helpful and to discuss how to combine them with therapy and other self-care strategies. If medication is right for you, the psychiatrist can provide follow-up care, making adjustments in medication and dose when needed.

UC Berkeley students are referred to psychiatrists by counselors at CAPS or Social Services. If you are interested in medications, please make an appointment to talk with a counselor.  UHS medical clinicians can also refer students for a psychiatric evaluation when appropriate.

Our Combined Treatment Model

Medication alone is rarely adequate to address the complex psychological and social factors that contribute to most presenting problems. Research has repeatedly shown that for most conditions, when treatment with psychiatric medications (pharmacotherapy) is combined with psychotherapy, clinical outcomes are better than when psychiatric medications are taken alone. Some of the benefits of combining pharmacotherapy with psychotherapy over pharmacotherapy alone include:

  • Enhanced emotional and psychological support during periods of heightened distress.
  • Enhanced awareness of how cognitive, emotional, life style, and interpersonal factors affect symptoms being targeted by pharmacotherapy.
  • Enhanced development and strengthening of skills that allow for a greater sense of agency in reaching and maintaining treatment goals.
  • Enhanced reduction of symptoms.
  • Enhanced stability of symptom improvement.
  • Improved adherence to prescribed medications.

The University Health Services, therefore, has adopted a model of combined treatment in which all students seen in our Psychiatry Services will be expected to be concurrently in counseling with either a UHS or community psychotherapist.  If concurrent treatment for substance use or another specific issue is also recommended, students will be expected to actively engage in that treatment as well.

The goal of our combined treatment model is to insure that students have the counseling support we believe will be most helpful for moving toward greater mental health. Students who decline or are unable to adhere to the recommended treatment plan will need to transfer their psychiatric care to an off-campus psychiatrist.

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