Yale defends mental health and withdrawal policies after Washington Post article

Suspension

wrote Yale University President Peter Salovey e-mail to the school’s alumni on Wednesday to defend the university’s mental health services and the way they treat suicidal students, while detailing plans for more resources and potential policy changes.

I followed his letter Washington Post story In it, current and former students described being pressured by university officials to withdraw once the university learned of their mental health problems and being forced to reapply to return to the university.

“What if Yale finds out?”

Before the story was published last week, Yale officials had repeatedly declined to discuss the university’s withdrawal and reinstatement policies or to process any of the accounts submitted by students and former students.

On Wednesday, Salovey said the article “misrepresents our efforts and our unwavering commitment to supporting our students, whose well-being and success are our primary focus.”

In the story, more than 25 current and former students describe their frustration with the university’s influx of a $41.4 billion endowment, but struggle with what they say are inadequate services and policies for those with a mental health crisis.

Some recounted that they called for help and heard no response. Others received limited 30-minute therapy sessions due to crew restrictions. Many said they learned to hide mental problems and suicidal thoughts to avoid triggering opt-out policies they believed were designed to protect Yale from lawsuits and damage to its reputation.

Those pressured to withdraw said they were given 72 hours or less to leave campus – with one student being greeted by campus police upon discharge from a psychiatric hospital and given two hours to pack her belongings and vacate her accommodation.

“To be clear, the health and well-being of Yale students is a core university priority,” Salovey wrote. The Washington Post article does not reflect Yale University’s efforts to promote student health. The article fails to acknowledge the support, processes and policies in place or the positive outcomes associated with our work.”

Salovey said the university plans to take action in the coming months to improve mental health services and outlined efforts it has already made in recent years to make rehabilitation less difficult and expensive.

Next year, the university will open a new extension site. A committee has met in recent months, Salovey said, “to continue to review withdrawal and reinstatement policies. This group is preparing for phased policy changes that will continue to support students.”

He has also written for other Yale directors—Dean of Yale College Pericles Lewis and Paul Hoffman, director of the Department of Mental Health and Counseling at Yale University. Letter to the editor On Tuesday, the article claimed to ignore the “complex and delicate endeavor” to address students’ mental health and said it “could put more students at risk” by leaving the impression that they should remain in college at the expense of their own well-being.

In an interview Thursday, Lewis said the university plans to hire nine additional mental health doctors next year, bringing the total number to nearly 60. The new counseling center that opens next year will be Yale’s third such location in New Haven.

Lewis said potential changes to the university’s withdrawal policies could be announced in the coming weeks, but he described them as not “any drastic policy revisions, but rather an update of the documentation and making sure everything is clear.”

Lewis noted that officials are trying to address one problem raised by The Post story — how students in crisis who drop out of Yale lose their health insurance and access to treatment at the moment they need it most.

I’m not sure I’ll know for sure if we’ll be able to do this for another few weeks or so. “But we are in the process of looking at that…the issue of cost and insurance for those who come from families who don’t have insurance.”

Lewis said university officials wrote the letters in response to alumni’s concern after The Post’s article.

He said, “I wanted to make clear that the mental health of our students is a very, very high priority and that we seek to have policies and practices that will ensure that.” “In particular, it will help prevent suicide. This is the basis for our decision-making and nothing else.”

Many current and former students expressed frustration with Salovey’s letter and the administration’s response.

“They missed the whole point of the article and those students who were brave enough to speak out,” said Alicia Floyd, who withdrew after a suicide attempt in 2000 and now works as a physician. The problem is how awful it is to have them leave and come back. And how that discourages people in pain from seeking help or taking the vacation they need.”

Last year, Floyd and others created a nonprofit organization called Ellis to Rachel To pressure Yale University to change its mental health policies.

“The letter shows how detached those responsible are from our experiments,” said Aquile Mazzara-Larte, 22, a Yale senior. Their policies have an enormous impact on students, especially those who need support, who are on low incomes, and who come from marginalized backgrounds. Or trans and non-binary, like me.”

Lartey — a leader in a student disability rights group called DEFY — recalled his struggles with mental health in his freshman year at Yale and was warned not to reveal too much to his advisors at Yale because of the opt-out policy. Lartey said he also struggled to find any counselors who understood his problems as a non-binary student.

“Not only do we desperately need policy reform and more resources, but we need better, more diverse advisors,” he said.

The audit and discussion of the changes comes more than a decade later of criticism From the withdrawal policies at Yale University. In 2015, students demanded change after a Yale sophomore cited the opt-out policy in an online post shortly before killing herself. Last year, a freshman killed herself a few days after anguish over online posts about the potential consequences of dropping out.

Before the article was published, Yale officials refused to provide The Post with job return statistics. In Salovey’s letter, he said, “More than 90 percent of students who were medically withdrawn were reinstated on their first request. More than 99 percent on their second; and 100 percent on their third request.”

These numbers include students who withdraw for both physical and mental reasons. Lewis said the majority of medical withdrawals are for mental health reasons. When asked how many students who dropped out decided to reapply, Lewis said he didn’t have that data.

said Rishi Mirchandani, who withdrew in 2018 after suffering suicidal thoughts and reintroduced it twice before being reinstated. It does not pick up the logistical and financial hurdles. The anxiety and uncertainty she is forced to live through while she waits for them to pass their judgment. Nobody agrees that vacation is necessary and life-saving. But it should be simple, flexible and supportive. Right now, none of those things.”

Many on campus have contacted her group in the wake of The Post’s story, asking how they can help improve mental health on campus, said Miriam Copito, 22, a senior and leader with the Yale Student Mental Health Association.

“I’ve been working for years—between my classes and my job—to try to get administrators to take care of these issues. We often feel like we’re invisible to them,” Cobito said. “I really hope things get better. I’d like to see that.”

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