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Clay Announces New Mental Health Plans

By Dana Levine

EDITOR IN CHIEF

In response to the recently released report of the MIT Mental Health Task Force, Chancellor Phillip L. Clay announced yesterday that the Institute will expand mental health appointment hours and introduce mental health programs into the dormitories and ILGs.

The Task Force, which consisted of students, faculty, staff, and alumni, was chaired by David A. Mellis ’02 and Assistant Chief of Mental Health Kristine A. Girard. The Task Force released the most recent draft of its report on August 13, 2001.

At a press conference held yesterday, Clay praised the work of the Task Force. “The group of 20 faculty, staff, and students have been working ... to find ways we can be supportive to our students,” he said.

Mental health hours expand

The report recommended the expansion of services to the hours between 5 and 7 p.m., when classes are not scheduled. Clay’s proposed changes would increase the hours for mental health and internal medicine services until 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, starting Sept. 17.

Clay also announced that an optional insurance program starting September 1 will cover “unlimited mental health treatment outside of MIT with no co-payments,” and hospitalizations for up to 120 days.

According to Clay’s report, this extended mental health plan will be part of MIT medical’s extended health plan, which will cost $768 for a 1-year membership. It will cover services by a licensed Massachusetts Blue Cross Blue Shield participating psychiatrist, or other mental health professional if recommended by MIT’s Mental Health service.

Support team in residences

In addition, Clay announced a pilot program for a Residence Support Team, which will involve bringing health care professionals and counselors into living groups. “This is an effort not to actually to perform direct services in the dormitory, but to help the staff get to know the students, resident advisers, and housemasters,” Clay said.

According to a press report issued by Clay’s office, each dormitory and independent living group will be assigned a support team beginning this fall, which will provide education and problem solving for the students and staff who live there. Support teams will consist of mental health workers and other members of MIT medical, members of the Dean’s Office of Counseling and Support Services, and chaplains.

Clay emphasized that support staff may include more than just mental health professionals. “We want students to know they can go to the medical department. They can also go to the faculty housemaster, or to the chaplain,” he said.

Other services announced by Clay include a new website providing a guide to mental health resources, which will be available on September 4th.

The full text of the Mental Health Task Force draft report is available at .