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Important Information Regarding Your Student's Mental Health Care

Dear Parents and Family Members of Chico State Students,

Mental health care for students is an important topic on college and university campuses across the nation.  To that end, it is our collective view that establishing a candid conversation with parents/families on this topic is an essential element when planning for the new academic year ahead.

The increase of emotional problems and mental illness occurring among college students has been well documented. With the tragedies in recent years at Virginia Tech and the University of Northern Illinois, there is more national attention on these issues then ever – and this is a good thing.  

In our own experiences at Chico State, the frequency of students arriving on campus needing some type of psychological assistance has been on the rise for many years. With this in mind, we want to provide student and parents with ways of helping new students “get ready” to start their college experience should mental health services be needed.

Our Counseling Center and Student Health Center provide services to approximately 16,000 students. With these numbers and volume, the campus is unable to operate as a “primary care provider” when long-term care is necessary. We believe it is important to advise you of the scope of campus services before students arrive on campus this fall.  

If your student has a history of mental health needs, the best strategy for their success at the University is to develop a plan for their psychological care prior to arrival on campus. Our recommendations include:

•    Check with your current health care provider for their approved list of health care professionals in the Chico area who are accepting new client/patients. Schedule an appointment for an initial visit within the first couple of weeks of arriving in Chico. Some parents set-up an appointment during the “move in period” and attend the first appointment to administer to the insurance and payment details with the provider.

•    If your student will be residing in University Housing, please encourage your student to provide his/her emergency contact information when checking into their residence hall community.  This information may include medications, allergies, and health insurance information.  It is also critical to make sure the emergency contact information is current for parent(s) and/or guardian(s).

•    There can be a transition period for finding a new physician and pharmacy that accepts your insurance plan. If your student is taking medications, work in cooperation with his/her physician to make sure they have an adequate supply of medication to make it through the “transition period”.

•    Work with your student to help them formulate a strategy or routine for taking their medications regularly and in the prescribed dosage. This is often a problem for students as they adjust to their new schedule and learn to navigate the numerous distractions of on-campus life. Some students have setbacks in managing their conditions by forgetting or willfully electing to not take prescribed medications.  

•    The University considers a student’s passive or active decision to forego a prescription medication program as a “self-management” concern and obligation.  Failure to appropriately self-manage does not diminish the student’s responsibility to behave appropriately and is not viewed as an excuse for unacceptable conduct.

•    If your student begins to struggle with academic requirements as a result of a health condition or disability, Disability Support Services (DSS) may be able to help arrange for reasonable accommodations with University faculty.  Please see the DSS website for more information (see below).  

These suggestions are provided as a guideline that we hope is useful to you. If you require additional information about the types of mental health services available to your child or family member, please review the following websites:

With every good wish that you and your student has a successful academic year.

Ms. Catherine Felix – Director – Student Health Service    
Dr. Mimi Bommersbach – Director – Counseling & Wellness Center
Ms. Sandy Parsons – Director – Disability Support Services    
Dr. David Stephen – Director – University Housing & Food Service