The Advice and Counselling Service employs 2 consultant psychiatrists who run weekly clinics to see student referred to them by the counselling team. The role of our psychiatrists is to support the therapeutic work of the counselling team and does not function as, or in place of, NHS provision.
The psychiatrists contribute to the work of the Advice and Counselling Service by:-
- Assessing and diagnosing mental health problems in students referred by counsellors within the service
- Advising referring counsellors on the best treatment options for any mental health problems identified
- Referring students with mental health difficulties to the Mental Health Team in the QMUL Disability and Dyslexia Service who can arrange appropriate support to mitigate against negative impact on the student’s academic progress
- Arranging appropriate referrals to external specialist mental health and other NHS services for ongoing treatment (this is done via the stduent's GP)
- Liaising with a student’s GPs regarding prescription of appropriate medication
- Assessing risk (particularly to self or others) and working collaboratively with other team members in the management of students at risk (Although students who are at immediate risk of serious harm should attend A and E - the psychiatry clinics at QMUL are not a crisis service) Procedures for mental health emergencies are available for QMUL staff in the document Supporting students in urgent situations [PDF 691KB]
- Being a point of reference to the Advice and Counselling team, for information about, and liaison with, local NHS mental health services
- Liaising with suitable inpatient treatment providers in the case of a student needing to be admitted to hospital
Students whose needs are assessed as requiring the resources of a NHS mental health service, particularly those with severe and/or complex problems, will be referred on to secondary mental health services via their GP, as well as being referred to the QMUL Mental Health Team.
Students who are already being treated within NHS services will not be offered treatment within QMUL Advice and Counselling Service, unless in exceptional circumstances and in agreement with existing mental health care professionals working with that student
How do students access a Psychiatry Clinic?
Students are first seen by a counsellor, who will then refer them for a psychiatric consultation if necessary. We have good availability for our psychiatry clinics and there is rarely a long wait. Our psychiatrists do not offer ongoing sessions or carry a caseload of patients. Once a student has had their psychiatric assessment (and this may extend beyond a single session where necessary) they would be referred to NHS mental health services for ongoing psychiatric support if required. The psychiatry clinics are not designed to function as emergency clinics and are not a replacement for A and E.
Procedures for mental health emergencies are available for QMUL staff in the document Supporting students in urgent situations [PDF 691KB]
Medical and dental students
If medical students are seeing a counsellor or a psychiatrist this does not in itself raise concern about fitness to practice. In fact students who seek professional help if they have emotional/psychological problems would usually be viewed favourably because they are recognising they are struggling, taking responsibility and asking for help. The GMC have produces a Myth busters information sheet to help students understand this.
The psychiatrists employed within the Advice and Counselling Service are not acting as the ‘University’ psychiatrists. They are acting for the student and in the best interests of that student and are therefore not able to carry out consultations for the medical school or Queen Mary regarding issues such as fitness to practice or fitness to study.
If any ACS staff member has concerns over FtP they would firstly work with the student to encourage them to disclose their difficulties to the medical school. If this does not happen, counsellors will normally arrange for them to be assessed by an ACS psychiatrist. If ACS psychiatrists have serious concerns over FtP, and the student is unwilling to disclose their difficulties to the medical school, they psychiatrist will be obliged (as a practising doctor in compliance with GMC registration) to report concerns to the medical school.
If the medical school requires a psychiatric report regarding FtP this must be obtained externally as ACS psychiatrists cannot provide this service. The Occupational Health Service can arrange for an independent psychiatrists for the purposes of assessing FtP.
The fact that a medical student has attended ACS will not be disclosed routinely to their GP. However, if they see one of our psychiatrists and it is decided that they need medication or referral to specialist NHS services this will be requested via their GP.
The Advice and Counselling service operates according to professional ethical guidelines regarding confidentiality. Counsellors and other ACS staff, including psychiatrists cannot disclose information regarding attendance or content of appointments without the explicit consent of the student. (Full details of our policy on Confidentiality and Data Protection is available on our website).
If a student does not attend appointments the service will not disclose this to any third party who made the referral. Instead we would encourage the referrer to speak to the student directly to check whether they attended an appointment. A confirmation of attendance form can be provided to the student for the reassurance of the staff member if requested by the student.