So first let me just do a quick complaint about the university mental health services. Remember in my other post about therapy, where I described the procedure at my old university? They had the mandatory phone call triage appointment before you could see a therapist. Talking on the phone gives me crippling anxiety, so I never made the appointment and I never went to therapy.
Here, at my current university, it was different. All triage appointments were in person, so I didn’t have to deal with an unpleasant phone call. Apparently, I found out today, they changed the game since I was last there. Now, all triage appointments are conducted via phone interviews, but they state on the website in bright red angry letters that there are a limited number of in-person appointments for people who don’t have access to phone services or for some reason cannot complete the appointment by phone. In red letters, I’m not exaggerating. I hesitated because I didn’t have a disability that kept me from talking on the phone, and I had both a cell phone and office phone with unlimited calling access. So then I thought, okay well, no appointment for me because I can’t talk on the phone.
Later, I thought, “This is ridiculous. If the only thing keeping me from making this appointment is the fact that I can’t talk on the phone, then I’ll take one of those in-person appointments.” So I click through all the things I need to, and then I get to the checkbox for either phone or in-person. Under in-person, it says in all caps “ONLY SELECT THIS IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO USE A PHONE FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT.” Like they were literally yelling at me.
Again I hesitated and closed all the windows because I felt so attacked. Like, I absolutely cannot discuss my mental health over the phone. There’s no way that could possibly happen, and so I would just end up lying or shutting down.
But then I got angry because I had already done the triage appointment once, so I shouldn’t have to do it again because it’s already on record, but there were no buttons anywhere, no people to contact, and not even a phone number to call to book a normal appointment or talk to someone about how to schedule an appointment. The lack of resources was shocking for a health services website.
I tried to use the message center to ask someone for help, but the only option it gave me was to contact a person I have already seen, the only one being the therapist I had seen previously. Not only would it be awkward to ask her to help me to see a different doctor, but when I sent her a message in emotional distress explaining something bad that was happening that I needed to sort out, she never responded. So I wasn’t about to contact her again.
I tried again, and I had to click through a total of 3 warnings in order to make an in-person appointment, and afterwards, there were additional warnings in red font about how I absolutely must be on time and I cannot cancel and some threats about fines and such. It was very stressful for a site that’s main intention is to service mentally distressed students.
And now I feel like I have to be all apologetic to the health care professional when I see her because I made an in-person appointment when I wasn’t supposed to. I’m expecting her to be mad at me and to not think my reasoning is justified. I’m worried that it’s going to make the whole encounter extra uncomfortable, but I don’t have any alternatives at this point.
Why does seeking resources for mental health have to be so stressful?