The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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A portrait of Chancellor Joan Gabel.
Senate Council holds final meeting of semester, recaps recent events
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • May 14, 2024
Column | A thank you to student journalists
By Betul Tuncer, Editor-in-Chief • April 27, 2024

Pitt Student Health Services experiences a shortage of psychiatrists

The+Cathedral+of+Learning.
Kaylee Uribe | Senior Staff Photographer
The Cathedral of Learning.

Pitt’s Student Health Services are currently experiencing a psychiatrist shortage, with no clinicians available to talk to students. 

Though it is unclear why the University does not have any psychiatrists, Executive Health Director of Student Health Services Charles Guthrie addressed the vacancy and said the University is “currently working to secure a contract with two providers to bridge care for students while we recruit providers.”

Guthrie said the Counseling Center also provides primary care physicians an additional certification to consult on and prescribe psychiatric medication. Primary care physicians manage mild to moderate depression and anxiety, eating disorders and previously diagnosed ADHD. Meanwhile, psychiatrists manage severe depression and anxiety, bipolar disorder and polysubstance abuse. 

“[Primary care physicians] are available for consultation. In addition, students can use the University Counseling Center (UCC) drop-in hours for support,” Guthrie said. 

Guthrie said Student Health Services and the Counseling Center work together to provide care until a student is connected with a community provider, and they work closely with the Western Psychiatric Hospital to coordinate specialized care as needed.

“Further, the team works closely with the Care and Resource Support Office and Disability Resources and Services to assist with navigating academic concerns,” Guthrie said. 

While the Counseling Center cannot prescribe medication, students are able to access their free and confidential health services, such as individual and group therapy, gender affirmation treatment, self-help and trauma care. 

“Our large and diverse student body presents the University Counseling Center with an array of needs and concerns,” Associate Director of Clinical Services Ashlee Wolfgang said. “We utilize a personalized care model to appropriately match each unique student with our wide range of services, supports and resources available both here and within the community while ensuring that we are providing culturally responsive care.”

To schedule an appointment at the Counseling Center, students can utilize their drop-in hours Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students can call 412-648-7930 for a same-day appointment. 

“Most services are free,” Alex Sipe, assistant director of clinical services, said. “All are confidential. Psychological testing services are now also available for a fee. You can be seen in person or virtually for a telehealth appointment.” 

After calling or visiting in person, students will receive an email to complete paperwork. 

“Typically within 30 minutes, you can meet with a clinician in person or virtually, depending on your preference, for an initial appointment,” Sipe said. “During that appointment, the student and the therapist will collaborate on a personalized care plan to support the unique needs of the students while ensuring they are connected to resources.” 

If students need to talk to someone outside of drop-in hours, they can call 412-648-7930 at all hours of the day.

“We are here for you whether you just need to speak to a therapist one time or if you need ongoing care and support,” Wolfgang said. “We have a very diverse staff that represents various student identities. While psychiatric care is not housed under the University Counseling Center, our therapists support students with linkage to resources.” 

Guthrie said student well-being at Pitt continues to be a priority for the University. 

“This has resulted in the expansion of the Wellness and Resource Course and the embedded clinician program in academic schools, residence halls and other departments, launching Thrive@Pitt, creation of the Higher Education Assessment and Response (HEART) and Campus Crisis Support Teams, launching Psychological Testing at the UCC, enhancing peer support programs and services and, most importantly, continuing to partner with student organizations,” Guthrie said. 

In the absence of psychiatrists, Guthrie said he wanted to highlight a recently launched adventure care program called Natural Connections. 

“We recently launched an adventure therapy program called Natural Connections that utilizes a combination of ecotherapy principles, adventure-based activities and experiential processing to foster personal growth and resilience, while also building relationship and communication skills, self-esteem and emotion regulation skills,” Guthrie said.

About the Contributor
Emma Hannan, Staff Writer