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Remember... it is okay to not be okay.

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Options for Care Outside of CAPS

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Clinicians at CAPS can help you get connected with some of the many excellent therapists and psychiatrists who provide mental health care in the community surrounding Stanford. CAPS has a Referral Coordination Specialist who can provide personalized support for understanding your benefits and finding resources for mental health. Call us to  request a Referral Coordination consult.

Poppy/Illuminating Decorative Accent Line (CAPS)
  • Who is licensed to provide therapy?
    • It is important to choose a provider who is licensed to provide therapy or medication. Licensed providers agree to abide by a professional code of ethics, are overseen by a practice board, and must meet specific levels of education and testing to maintain their licenses.

      Providers with the following types of titles/licenses are able to provide individual therapy:

      • Psychologist (PhD, PsyD)
      • Clinical Social Workers (MSW, LCSW)
      • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT)
      • Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCC)

      Only Psychiatrists and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are able to prescribe medication. Most therapists can refer you for medication evaluation and management when indicated. Some Psychiatrists provide both therapy and medication management.

      • Psychiatrists (MD)- these providers are able to prescribe medication
      • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)- these providers are able to prescribe medication
  • How do I use my insurance for therapy?
    • You can contact your insurance plan directly to request details of your coverage and referral options. Info on this page can help you do this.

      • I have Cardinal Care Insurance
        • Managed Health Network (MHN) covers the mental health portion of Cardinal Care. Mental health services are covered with a $25 copay for visits if you see an in-network provider. There is no reimbursement for out-of-network providers. You do not need a referral to see a therapist or psychiatrist.

          Locally and in California: Most students find it easiest to use web-based search tools provided on this site to find a local therapist who accepts MHN. You can enter “MHN” as the insurance in any of the web search tools. For local searches, Welltrack Connect has partnered with CAPS to build up the MHN provider base. On the Welltrack Connect site you can get detailed info about providers and send messages directly to them.

          MHN Referrals and Support line (1.800.327.4103) provides direct assistance with referrals in your local zip code. If you contact MHN directly using the support line, please complete the online contact form here to give us feedback on your experience. We want to be sure you are receiving the referrals you need. 

          If you obtain a list directly from MHN, we recommend checking out this Decoding Mental Health Provider List –this will help you reduce confusion as you review lists of in-network providers and decide whom to call for an appointment.    

          Out of state : For Western region: California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington - MHN provider network is utilized- see above instructions for finding local provider. For all other states not in Western region - MHN uses First Health provider network.

          Instructions for students to access First Health options (in states outside of western region)

          Contact First Health Network (number of back of insurance card): 800.226.5116 and request help finding a provider with an available appointment. You will be offered a list of providers – be clear you want help from First Health finding a provider with availability- ask for help to get connected with available provider, rather than accepting a list of providers. First Health will outreach to providers and contact you once an available provider is found

          Please note: per Cardinal Care, regulatory requirements dictate access to care as follows:

          • MD (i.e. psychiatry/medication management) = 15 business days
          • Non-MD (e.g. therapist – LCSW, PhD, LPC, etc. ) = 10 business days

          If you need additional assistance, please contact CAPS or contact MHN: Tabitha Hipp LPC, MHN Senior Behavioral Health Clinical Care Manager 469.639.3226       

  • I want search tools to find a therapist or psychiatrist
  • I Am Seeking Low-cost or Sliding Scale Therapy Options
  • I Am Seeking Financial Support to Help with the Cost of Mental Health Services
    • Undergraduate Students:

      • If you are currently enrolled and registered for classes, fill out the “medical/dental expense form” for assistance from the Financial Aid Office and meet with a Financial Aid Advisor. 
      • If you are low income or first generation, and are not registered in classes, or if you are enrolled in classes but Financial Aid options you received were not sufficient to cover medical expenses, you can apply for funds through the FLI Office (First gen and/or low income- FLI). Fill out the Opportunity Fund application and meet with a FLI advisor.
      • If neither of these options are sufficient, you may also work with your Residence Director to see if you are eligible for further assistance through the Dean of Students office.

      Graduate Students:

      • There may be general financial support available through graduate departments to assist you in getting health insurance, Summer Access Fee, or other medical coverage expenses. You can meet with your department, or, if you want more support and information first, meet with a Graduate Life Office (GLO) Dean. GLO Deans are happy to support Graduate students. 
      • If your department is unable to provide sufficient assistance with your medical expenses, you can apply for Emergency Grant in Aid. Graduate Life Office (GLO) Deans can assist with this application. There is also a “Graduate Student Aid Fund” available through the Financial Aid Office.
      • FLI office (first Gen and/or Low income- FLI) is for Graduate students too- connect with them to learn more- they can assist FLI Grad students with Grant in Aid and other programs.
  • Contacting therapists/psychiatrists- a how to guide
    • Many of the web platforms in the search tools tab, allow you to email a therapist privately from the site to arrange a call or set up an appointment. 

      However, you may still need to use the phone to connect with the therapist to confirm they meet your requirements (insurance they accept, specialties they work with, experience with issues you want to address, etc) and some therapists decline to use email for confidentiality or other reasons.

      If you use the phone for contact, know that most mental health clinicians do not have an administrative staff answering phones, so you may need to leave a voicemail and be prepared to answer a return call.

      It is best to select a minimum of 3-5 providers, and reach out to all of them in one sitting, as it is common for practices to be full or holding a wait list- the more providers you contact, the better chance to link with a therapist and an appointment time that works for you!

      How-To Guide: Connecting with Therapists/Psychiatrists over the phone or email

      For any phone call, expect to get confidential voicemail and to leave a voicemail. In your first communication with a provider, provide this information on the voicemail, or in the email message:

      • Your name 
      • Your identity as a Stanford student
      • If you received their name from someone, tell them who referred you (eg: Stanford CAPS or the name of your CAPS therapist)
      • If you plan to use insurance, share your insurance name (eg: Cardinal Care student health insurance through MHN, Anthem Blue Cross, United, etc.) and ask if they are currently accepting new clients with your insurance plan. 
      • Your preference for follow up (you can give both options for phone and email, but let them know if one is best- phone or email)
      • Your phone number and what times/days are best to contact you directly. Let them know it is okay for them to leave a voicemail on your phone. 
      • Your email address and that it is OK for them to contact you and on email if they are willing to use email. (some therapists and MDs will not use email)
      • Request that they contact you to let you know either way, if they have an opening or if they are full.


      • Make sure that your phone has voicemail set up and the voicemail box is not full. 
      • Answer calls that come in, even if they are “unknown” number, to avoid missing the call-backs from therapists
      • Check your spam or “other” box in your email to prevent missing responses or reach-outs from therapists via email
      • Don’t hesitate to send a follow up message or call if you do not hear back in 48 hours.

      How to interview and choose: 

      You may find it helpful to spend a couple of minutes on the phone with several clinicians to get a sense of who you feel a connection with. 

      You may also choose to meet with a couple of different clinicians, then decide who you feel most comfortable with. It is okay to talk with or meet with a couple of different people, then make a decision about whom you would like to continue with. You are welcome to tell the providers you are doing this. 

      For example, “I am talking with a couple of therapists to get a feel for who might be the best fit for me. I’d like to talk with you for a couple of minutes about how we might work together. If this feels like the best fit, could I call you back  or email you to schedule an appointment?” 

      If you talk with or meet with a couple of therapists, you may find it helpful to ask about the following when you are trying to get a sense of who might be a good fit: 

      • Tell them a little about how you are feeling and what you are struggling with. Ask how they might help someone with your concerns. What experience do they have helping someone with the types of problems you are experiencing? 
      • Could they describe their approach to treatment? 
      • What are their specialties? 
      • What hours are they available to see you?
      • Any other questions you have for them
  • What if I am studying abroad/internationally, or living out of state?
    • Mental Health Care Away from Campus 

      If you will be away from campus for summer break, a leave of absence, study abroad, or other reasons, get a head start in connecting to mental health services while you are away. 

      In the US:

      Urgent Mental Health Needs In the United States

      For urgent medical or mental health crises while you are in the U.S., call 9.1.1 or go to the nearest emergency room. 

      Non-urgent care in the US for students

      • WPO
        • In an effort to increase mental health resources for Stanford students this year, CAPS is offering an additional therapy option for students via a new, one-year pilot program called WPO.  Through this program, students can receive up to 3 free virtual therapy sessions (or in-person sessions if wanted and available) with a therapist, paid for by CAPS. WPO clinicians can also provide single-session therapy right at the time of your call. To access this new therapy service, call:

          1.866.212.6113 (enrolled Stanford students currently located in the U.S.) 

          +1 984.239.2309 (enrolled Stanford students currently located outside of the U.S.) 

          Learn more

      • Use search tools to find local provider
      • Contact your insurance provider for referrals
        • You can contact your insurance directly for available therapists and help connecting. Call the customer or patient support line for your plan, and ask for referrals in the zip code where you will be living. You can also share specialties and identities you need and they can assist you in obtaining names. If you have Cardinal Care, please see the section above oin on "using my insurance for therapy" and click on "I have Cardinal Care" for information.

      While Abroad/international:

      For Urgent Mental Health Needs While Abroad

      For students who are abroad for university programs, urgent support is available through International SOS (or ISOS for short). Students or any person supporting the student can call ISOS directly at +1 215.942.8226 for immediate consultation and help.

      If you are abroad in a Stanford affiliated program, and seeking care for mental needs, you can also call ISOS for consultation.

      Nonurgent Mental Health Services while Abroad

      For Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP) 

      Many BOSP Stanford study abroad programs have contracted with local mental health resources recruited specifically to serve students abroad in some BOSP programs. Talk with BOSP prior to your overseas studies about what resources are available in the place you will be visiting and how to best get connected.

      For students with Cardinal Care who want therapy while abroad for extended time:

      If there is a therapist you want to see overseas, and you have Cardinal Care, you are eligible for reimbursement through your Tier 2 benefits. Additional information can be found in the Student Health Matters guide (which can be found online at 

      Please use the International Mental Health Using Cardinal Care tip sheet for instructions on using your Cardinal Care mental health benefits while overseas.

Stanford University aerial view. Credit: Ron Reiring, via Wikimedia Commons