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Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

Health & Well-Being

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Mental Health Issues

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Transition to University life presents lifestyle challenges. The University is located away from family and from your usual health care teams (even if only by a few miles). New schedules and study demands lead to changes in physical activity level and sleep patterns. There are changes in dietary patterns as you get used to campus food choices, and there is exposure to alcohol and other substances. There are big changes in your social environment, and new experiences in friendships and relationships, during this period of transition. We encourage you to think about how these changes may affect how you manage your health and well-being, and to consider what supports may be helpful to you as you settle in at Stanford.

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There are resources at Stanford to assist you along this transition. Vaden Health Center is available to provide Primary Care Services, Nutrition Services, and Wellness Coaching in addition to 24-7 crisis support, brief therapy and consultation, and referral services via Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Students who wish to connect with CAPS for support and information on local resources for mental health care should call 650.723.3785 and ask for a consultation and support from one of our CAPS therapists. If you have been in a higher level of care, or need support to connect to specialized resources, you may also be connected to a CAPS Care Manager for further support on accessing the right resources locally. We recommend that you consider contacting CAPS several weeks before you arrive on campus, to ensure a smooth transition of care.

CAPS Clinical Services

Some things to consider as you prepare for Stanford




  • In evaluating whether or not to enroll Stanford’s Cardinal Care insurance plan, please look into whether your current insurance plan has adequate coverage for mental health care near Stanford.  Many plans cover medical care, but have few options for mental health services near campus. Please get a list from your insurance and make contacts with therapists to see if they are actually available. If you get a list from your insurance, CAPS is happy to consult with you on viable options in your provider list. Contact CAPS at 650.723.3785.
  • Undergraduate students on full financial aid should not waive Cardinal Care, as you may be eligible to have the cost of Cardinal Care covered by your financial aid. Please call the Financial Aid Office and ask if you are eligible to have the cost of Cardinal Care covered- 888.326.3773. Also feel free to consult with CAPS, for any questions about your option to have Cardinal Care insurance.
  • Most Vaden Primary Care services and CAPS brief therapy services are provided to registered Stanford students without additional fees, regardless of insurance.
  • Students are charged for psychiatric medication follow-up services at CAPS:
    • $25 copay/ visit for students on Cardinal Care
    • $95-$190/visit (current range, depending on complexity) for students without Cardinal Care.
  • If you take any prescription medications, make sure to consult with your care provider prior to leaving home. Bring an adequate supply of medication, and bring your prescription information.
  • To have psychotropic medication refilled while you are here, you will need to transfer care to a new Psychiatrist locally. If you opt to use CAPS for medication management, an intake and an evaluation is needed prior to any medication management services, including refills on existing prescriptions. You would access CAPS Psychiatry via our CAPS Connects service by calling 650-723-3785.
  • ADHD medication is a specialized medication management service. Here is a link on how to begin evaluation for that service at CAPS
  • The Vaden Pharmacy is a Walgreens Pharmacy and is available for your prescriptions. More information can be found at the Pharmacy website.
  • The campus cafeterias and food shops include healthy choices.  Whether you are relying on cafeteria food, or cooking on your own there will be freedom to make unhealthy choices also.  Keep in mind that dietary changes can impact both your physical and emotional health.

Substances on Campus



  • Please be aware that alcohol and other substance use can increase stress and worsen mental health issues.
  • Alcohol is illegal for students under the age of 21, however there may be times when you have access to it.
  • While recreational Marijuana is legal in California, it is prohibited on Stanford Campus. View the policy.
  • Smoking (including e-cigarettes) is also prohibited. View the policy.
  • If you want support for making decisions about substance use, making changes in your personal habits, or want to find resources on substances and health, check out the Office of Substance Use Programs Education & Resources.
  • SUPER sponsors many great alcohol and substance free events around campus as well, and if there is something you want to organize, for a social activity, the Cardinal Nights program can help.
Managing stress
  • Change is often a stress inducer. You will experience many changes here at Stanford.
  • Identify strategies on managing stress which have been successful for you in your past.  These may include exercise, enjoying unscheduled “down time” with friends, relaxation exercises, and connecting with groups on campus, among other approaches.
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Medical Condition Note

If your medical condition has specific treatment recommendations from your current provider, we recommend that you request a Transition of Care Summary from your current clinician. This document should include:

• Your diagnosis with ICD-10 code
• Your current status
• A brief history of treatments including those which failed
• Recommendations for care while at Stanford (including medical management and diagnostic tests)