Mental Health Services offers brief therapy and other mental health treatment to students on a limited basis in order to offer support and access to all UW–Madison students. If you need long-term, urgent, or specialized treatment, University Health Services (UHS) may suggest an outside community provider to better meet your needs. Some students choose to pursue treatment in the community instead of at UHS. You may be able to use your insurance for counseling and psychiatry in the community and Care Managers can assist you in getting connected to care outside of UHS.
UHS Care Managers can provide support while you establish care with a community provider. Once connected, our Care Managers will follow up to see if your needs have been met, or if you need additional access to mental health services in the community.
Everyone who comes to Mental Health as a new client starts with a phone screening with a mental health specialist to collaboratively determine your needs and connect you to the best resources. There is no charge for this appointment.
What to expect
During the phone screening, students will have a discussion with a specialist who will listen to concerns, ask questions about a student’s symptoms, experiences, and resources, and connect them with the services they need, both on and off campus. This screening will last 15 to 20 minutes. Students are welcome to request mental health providers with specific identities, backgrounds, or training for the services they select.
UHS Care Managers can help you navigate insurance plans to understand your coverage and benefits for a particular mental health service or provider. If you don’t have insurance coverage in Madison, they may be able to help you obtain local coverage or identify low-cost/sliding fee scale providers. In addition to mental health and insurance resources, Care Managers also can assist you in accessing transportation, financial help, food, housing, and academic resources to support your success as a student.
Some students with insurance prefer to establish care on their own. If this is the case, additional information about finding community providers is available.
Read more about the Student Health Insurance Plan. Find out if SHIP is right for you.
This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.
Understanding your insurance
- Have your insurance card ready. The customer service phone number for assistance with benefit or referral information is on the back.
- You will be asked for your Member ID and/or Group ID. If you don’t have it, let them know. Most companies can look up your name, date of birth, and/or social security number.
- Tell the representative that you’re looking for Behavioral Health or Mental Health.
- You may need to contact one number to verify benefit information and another for mental health referrals. Ask the following questions about your benefits: Are mental health services covered by my insurance? Is there a co-pay and what is it? Is there a deductible, and how much of the deductible has already been met this year?
- For counseling or psychiatry, tell them you want outpatient mental health services. If you’re looking for more intensive services like a hospitalization, tell them you need inpatient care.
- Most insurance companies will email you a list of providers in your area, talk you through the options for different providers, or direct you to their website. Be sure to let them know the zip code of the areas that you want them to look under and any transportation limitations.
- If your insurance company tells you that you’re not covered in Madison (or Wisconsin), be sure to tell them that you are a full-time college student at UW–Madison, as you may be able to obtain a local referral option.
Tips for searching insurance websites
- Search your insurance company online.
- If applicable, click on Members or Member Services.
- Fill in county (Dane), city (Madison), state (Wisconsin), zip code (your Madison zip).
- Identify the type of provider that you would like to see. For counseling, choose Behavioral Health, Mental Health, Counseling, Clinical Social Work, or Psychology. For medication management, you would choose Psychiatry within Mental Health or Behavioral Health. If these are not options, look under Specialty Providers.
- Keep in mind that online resources may not be as reliable as the customer service provider. If you have a question, call and ask.