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A new mental health clinic at the University of Michigan may be in the works, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel told students at a fireside chat on Tuesday.

“We are working on ways to potentially open up a mental health clinic for students with very serious psychological and psychiatric disorders that would be within walking distance of the campus and that would be able to provide ongoing medical, psychological and psychiatric support,” Schlissel said.

Schlissel’s remarks come in light of several speak outs, most recently on Monday, aimed at addressing issues of mental health on campus. The University also hosted a Twitter chat on Friday featuring Depression Center Director John Greden and other University officials to discuss mental health and sexual misconduct.

Improving Counseling and Psychological Services and overall mental health at the University dominated conversation during the fireside chat, which also was also attended by E. Royster Harper, Vice President for Student Life. 

Students present at the chat expressed multiple concerns about the availability of mental health services on campus. LSA senior Marlee Beckering said there is a lack of accessibility to CAPS both online and on North Campus at the University.

In response, Schlissel said the University will continue to address these issues and to meet as many student needs as possible.

“We have to find the right level of staffing, a way to distribute this resource based on acuity of need, a way to assure that the wait is not beyond some reasonable length of time no matter what your problem is,” he said.

Schlissel also said the University will print the phone number for CAPS on the back of student ID cards beginning with next year’s incoming class and current students will receive a sticker with the phone number to place on their MCards.

During the event, students also asked Schlissel and Harper about ways to foster a relationship between the University and Detroit.

In response, Schlissel emphasized work already being done. 

“The University has increasingly been doing more projects with Detroit on an educational basis,” Schlissel said of Detroit. “Around 1000 undergraduates do year-long engaged learning and volunteer projects with communities in the city year after year.”

When asked to critique the ways schools within the University are connecting to Detroit, Schlissel said he did not have enough information to critique specifically what schools are not doing, but added that he knows with certainty many schools are taking initiative in Detroit.

“The Business School is involved in Detroit at multiple levels, as is the School of Social Work and the School of Education,” he said. “The School of Engineering leads a very active effort in Detroit high schools, specifically around robotics, and the Medical School is also doing work.”

Another area for improvement Schlissel addressed was working with deans in various schools and cultivating a sense of community, particularly for those who were recently appointed within the University. Nine out of the University's 19 deans are currently new or the position is currently being filled. 

“There is still relatively new senior leadership and we’ve come up with new ideas and directions that we want to take the campus, so it’s actually nice to be able to hire and appoint deans who are in their skills and have interests aligned with the new things we want to do,” Schlissel said. “So there’s upsides and downsides to all that turnaround, but we are getting great people.”

Schlissel also touched on the new Munger residence halls for graduate students and students pursuing professional degrees, saying he hoped they would inspire intellectual interaction between students studying different disciplines. Munger residents complained in March about a change in their leases and about students of different fields being segregated within the hall. Several students raised concerns over recent changes in the building, which has prompted complaints in past months, which many students felt inhibited their ability to continue to live in the University’s newest residence hall.

In response, Schlissel cited logistical challenges with nine-month leases, noting the purpose of the program. 

“It’s specifically designed to have people from different disciplines live together,” Schlissel said. “I think putting people together in living circumstances allows them to come together in and outside the curriculum but a substantive way that might enhance whatever it is they’re pursuing.”

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