Purpose: To examine (1) whether there is any consistency among medical schools in mental health services provided and (2) how these services are perceived by student affairs deans, mental health service providers, and the students themselves.
Method: Questionnaires were sent in October 1991 to the student affairs dean (or director), the individual responsible for student mental health services, and a student representative in each of the 126 U.S. and Canadian medical schools. Data were sought regarding personnel, individuals served, location, hours, administration, funding, confidentiality, administrative referrals, and respondents' suggestions for improvement. Possible differences among the three groups of respondents were tested by chi-square.
Results: Responses were received from 75 student affairs deans, 53 mental health providers, and 30 students. There was much diversity among schools in services provided, especially in the areas of administration and funding. Although perceptions of the three respondent groups were often the same, they differed significantly in a number of areas. Suggestions for improvement of services involved funding, personnel, hours, confidentiality and privacy, specialty services, preventive and support programs, and visibility. The suggestion most frequently made by the students was for increased information and visibility.
Conclusion: The differences among schools coupled with the differing perceptions within schools indicate a need for a comprehensive consideration of what kinds of mental health services are needed and how they can best be made accessible to a diverse body of students experiencing a variety of academic and personal challenges.