CAPS, UHS to merge into University Health & Counseling


The University of Michigan has merged its Counseling and Psychological Services with University Health Service as a way to streamline and ease barriers to student-centered mental health care on the Ann Arbor campus.

The two services are now housed administratively under a new unit, University Health & Counseling, within the Division of Student Life. The change was effective March 1.

Under UHC Executive Director Lindsey Mortenson, CAPS and UHS will continue as independent departments for the short term as they move through greater clinical and administrative integration. They will be rebranded this summer as a single unit under UHC.

A recently concluded internal audit and an external review both recommended a fully integrated, low-barrier, student-centered mental health care system. Student input also was factored into this decision.

“We have heard from students. They need and deserve streamlined access to high-quality care,” said Martino Harmon, vice president for student life. “UHC will help to expand on the great work already taking place in CAPS, especially for students with more complex needs.”

Mortenson is a physician leader and psychiatrist with more than 10 years’ experience in college health that includes national leadership and original contributions to the field. Her promotion from associate executive director of UHS to executive director of UHC formalizes her existing oversight of both UHS and CAPS. She also serves as the chief mental health officer in Student Life.

“I am honored to lead UHC. Our combined team has so much collective passion and knowledge around college students’ mental health and well-being,” Mortenson said. “The time is right to innovate, collaborate, and ensure our students can thrive while they are at Michigan.”

The merger aims to improve coordination of clinical mental health care across a comprehensive continuum of care.

UHS and CAPS will eventually use a unified scheduling and electronic health record system. Streamlined administrative processes will enable counselors to better focus on their core work and direct student interactions. Providers also will partner on specialized care, including in areas like trauma treatment, addiction medicine and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder support.

“This move is absolutely in line with our universitywide work to be a health-promoting university,” said Rob Ernst, chief health officer and associate vice president for health and wellness in Student Life. “This is a great example of changing an existing system for a better outcome.”

Ernst, who previously served as executive director of UHS, will continue to have direct involvement in institutional health and wellness efforts.

Additional benefits of the CAPS-UHS merger include greater engagement and coordination with academic, public health and Michigan Medicine colleagues. Wolverine Wellness, the campus health promotion hub and backbone for the university’s Well-being Collective, is expected to take on an even larger role in the coordination and delivery of campus health promotion and outreach efforts.

The creation of UHC is the next step in a series of efforts designed to improve student mental health care.

Last fall, U-M joined JED Campus, a four-year initiative with the Jed Foundation, a ​national leader in establishing best practices and policies on student mental health, suicide prevention and substance misuse.

Work is underway on a strategic plan from JED that will include recommendations on program, policy and systemwide improvements. An initial recommendation included eliminating silos between units, which the creation of UHC directly addresses.

Last March, all students on the Ann Arbor campus gained access to six free virtual counseling sessions through a third-party vendor, Uwill. They can choose evening or weekend appointments, pick from providers with diverse identities and backgrounds, and seek counseling even when they are away from campus for semester breaks or study abroad programs.

U-M launched the Well-being Collective in 2022. It is an institutional initiative to embed holistic well-being practices at systems and policy levels. A universitywide common agenda for the work of the Well-being Collective is expected this spring.


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