Transition of Care Guide

If you received treatment for a mental health condition while in high school or before, there are several things you can do to continue to stay healthy while transitioning to and attending college. These considerations can also be applied to other chronic or ongoing medical conditions.

Download this guide as a PDF


Getting Ready to Come to UMass:

Learn About Resources | Know Your Care Plan | Integrate Treatment & Education
Know Where to Get Emergency Help

Managing Your Care While You’re at UMass:

Transition | Coordinate | Prepare

Getting Ready: Learn About Resources

The UMass Center for Counseling and Psychological Health website is the place to start. Here you can:

  • Check out our services (workshops, groups, therapy, crisis services, and medication)
  • Plan for the cost of your care
  • Plan for the length of your care and obtain community referrals if you think you might require longer term care

If you do not see the information you are looking for on our website, call CCPH at (413) 545-2337 (If you would prefer not to identify yourself, say: “I’m an accepted student”) to find out how we handle referrals for students who need ongoing care or to get answers to any other questions that you might be wondering or worried about.

If you think you might need accommodations or other support services while participating in academics and campus life, visit the Disability Services website. Here you can:

Getting Ready: Know Your Care Plan

Learn the details of your condition and treatment so you can advocate for yourself. Talk to your family, care providers, and take as many notes as you need and organize them in a way that makes you feel comfortable. Here are some key things that you will need to be able to talk about:

General Things You Should Know

  • The name of your condition
  • The challenges or symptoms you experience (e.g. anxiety, difficulty concentrating, poor sleep)
  • How these experiences affect your life
  • The treatment you’re receiving (group therapy, medication)
  • Be able to describe your reactions and responses to your treatment (what’s been helpful and what hasn’t)
  • Names and contact information of your treatment providers
  • A picture or copy of your insurance card

Things to Know If You Take Medication

  • Name of your medication(s)
  • Dosage of your medication
  • When you’re supposed to take your medication (mornings, bedtime)
  • Be able to describe how medication makes you feel
  • Be able to describe any side effects or problems you’ve had with medication (current and/or past)
  • It’s also helpful to have your medication history available: what did you used to take? Why was it changed?

If you take medication and want to get ready to be more independent, try a test run of taking responsibility for taking your medication on schedule (ask a parent or guardian to supervise you at first). Medication reminder apps like Medisafe or MyMeds can be helpful. Also consider purchasing a weekly pill box, a pill box with a reminder notification feature, and/or a medication lock box.

Getting Ready: Integrate Your Treatment and Education Plan

To set yourself up for college success and stay on track to graduation, it’s helpful to integrate your treatment and your educational goals. If you had an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and accommodations at school, these will not automatically transfer to college. If you think you will need accommodations at college, it is helpful to bring a copy of your IEP or 504 plan with you when you meet with Disability Services. If you don’t have a copy of your IEP or 504 plan, it’s helpful if you can describe the purpose and goals of your IEP. If you’re not sure if you had an IEP, ask your parent or guardian.

Getting Ready: Know Where to Get Emergency Help

Add your SPIRE emergency contacts and program these important numbers into your phone:

  • Center for Counseling and Psychological Health (413) 545-2337
    • On Call support is available for mental health emergencies 24/7 - call the number above to reach our on call clinician
  • University Health Services (413) 577-5000
  • University Police (413) 545 3111

Other Resources for Help

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Transitioning to UMass: Managing Your Care

There are three options for managing your care while you are at UMass:

OPTION A: Continue Care with Clinician(s) from Back Home

This option might be best if you will be able to be in regular contact with your clinician or treatment team and you are comfortable working with them or you have a complicated problem.

Questions to consider with your parents/guardians and/or treatment team:

  • Will you be too far from home?
  • Will phone calls and infrequent face-to-face visits be sufficient?
  • If you take medication, how will you get it?
  • How will you share information between your home clinician and any campus-based providers?

Even if you choose this option, you may still want to connect with CCPH and Disability Services because they can help you with urgent needs, academic accommodations, or planning your specific transition to college experience.

OPTION B: UMass Center for Counseling and Psychological Health

This option makes sense if you need only intermittent individual visits and the additional range of services at CCPH can provide sufficient ongoing care and support.

Questions to consider:

  • Is your home clinician or treatment team okay with you receiving intermittent visits?
  • Will limited face-to-face visits be sufficient?
  • What additional services at CCPH can provide support?
  • Has your clinician/treatment team from home shared necessary information and records with CCPH?

OPTION C: Off Campus Clinician

If you need long term care and regular face-to-face visits, CCPH can help you with referral suggestions to off campus clinicians and private care that fits your clinical needs.

Questions to consider:

  • Are the off-campus clinician referrals affordable and/or do they accept your insurance?
  • Can you and/or you and your family meet the off-campus clinician before you transition to UMass so you can set up a plan in advance?
  • Do you and/or your family have adequate funds to pay for private care?

If you decide to engage in treatment with an off-campus clinician it’s important to make sure your home clinician sends your treatment notes and information to your new local clinician so you can have continuity of care. If you intend to also keep in touch with your clinician from home, you should make sure that your parameters for communication between your home clinician and your new clinician are clear.

Even if you choose this option, you may still want to connect with CCPH and Disability Services because they can help you with urgent needs, academic accommodations, or planning your specific transition to college experience.

Managing Your Care: Coordination is Key

  • Make sure you and all of your providers are all in agreement about specific parameters of your care: how often, who is lead clinician, how will changes in treatment be handled, etc.
  • Make sure you know how to describe your prior care, current needs, and medications
  • Have your treatment records sent to the offices and clinicians with whom you’ll be working. Make sure these are regularly updated.
  • Share and regularly update your documentation with Disability Services.
  • Make sure to know what medical insurance you have and how to use it.

Managing Your Care: Be Prepared for Crisis

Even if it doesn’t happen, it’s good to be prepared in case you have a setback or mental health crisis.

  • Make sure everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency and keep your emergency contact information current in SPIRE.
  • Student Legal Services can help you create a psychiatric advance directive. This is a legal document that provides instructions regarding treatment or services you want to have or not have during a mental health crisis.
  • Clinical services at CCPH are strictly confidential, with a few exceptions (i.e., imminent risk of harm, etc.). If you want anyone else to know about your treatment or care plans, make sure proper releases of information are filed with necessary clinicians and offices. Be specific as to when, under what circumstances and how information will be shared in the event of a problem or emergency and when family or other guardians will be contacted.
  • Get help if you’re in crisis. Examples of a crisis include: suicidal or homicidal thoughts or impulses; hearing voices or otherwise misperceiving reality; overwhelming loss, such as a death in the family; sexual or physical assault
    • Call CCPH at (413) 545-2337, 24/7. After hours callers will receive instructions for accessing on-call mental health crisis support. 
    • In a life threatening emergency, always call UMPD: (413) 545-3111 or 911
    • You can also contact the CWC's 24/7 Sexual Assault hotline, (413) 545-0800
    • National resources like the Crisis Text Line (text: 741 741) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (call: 1-800-273-8255) are available.
Adapted with permission from the The Jed Foundation (JED) Transition of Care Guide, a Set to Go program publication.

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