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Letter to the Community: CAPS Director on Student Privacy

Dear Stanford students,

I am honored to be taking on the role of Director of Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS). As I step into this position, I bring a firm conviction that your trust in our service is essential to our ability to provide you with effective care. For that reason, I want to address potential concerns about privacy that some of you may have, especially in light of the recent lawsuit regarding Stanford’s leaves-of-absence and student housing policies.

Privacy concerns may cause some of you to hesitate to contact CAPS — or to be reluctant about discussing your needs openly with CAPS staff. You may worry that seeking help from CAPS could lead to administrative consequences or to your mental health information being shared without your consent.  I want to emphasize that we at CAPS are required to adhere fully to federal and state laws regarding medical privacy, and that we view the protection of your health information as an indispensable aspect of your care. For details on how CAPS handles student information, see our policies on confidentiality and disclosures at the link here.

CAPS’s mission is to support the mental health and well-being of students. We do not make administrative decisions regarding leaves, housing holds or other actions. We routinely work with students experiencing a wide range of stressors — including substance use, trauma, thoughts of suicide, self-harm and aggressive urges. We are a confidential resource for all of these concerns. For students with particularly complex needs, such as those who have been hospitalized or are returning from leave, CAPS care managers provide vital support in enabling a successful transition back to campus.

As I settle into my new position, I plan to provide regular updates about CAPS and its campus outreach efforts. I am grateful to all of you who have already reached out to CAPS to share your ideas on how we can best meet your needs. The work of supporting student mental health and well-being is not one that CAPS can do alone. We look forward to collaborating with you and our campus partners as we continue to develop our programs and services.

While I am new to the role of Director, I have been a care provider at CAPS since 2010. It has been a deep privilege for me to serve Stanford’s diverse student body and to work with colleagues at CAPS and in Student Affairs over the past several years. Day after day, I have been profoundly impressed by the heartfelt dedication that I have seen from these colleagues. For all of us, it is an honor to support you through the important and eventful years you will spend at Stanford. Please know that we are here for you.

 

— Bina Patel, MD

Director, Counseling & Psychological Services
Vaden Health Center, Stanford University

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