Privacy and Confidentiality

At the Student Health Center, all staff are trained annually on privacy and confidentiality. Physicians and providers safeguard patient confidences and privacy within constraints of federal and state laws and policies. This means that we have an ethical duty to not disclose information beyond the treatment, payment and operational needs of patients without written permission, or as required by law. Medical records can be accessed by all staff at the Student Health Center only but only to the extent necessary to do our jobs. The rest of the University cannot access content safeguarded within medical records without your written authorization except where disclosure is allowed by law (e.g., to legal guardians and parents for minors; where there is reasonable suspicion of child, dependent adult or elder abuse; in cases of patient harm to self, others or inability to self-care due to a psychiatric illness; or when required by valid court order; in cases of medical emergencies.) No mental health information will appear on a student’s academic records, including any reference to whether or not SHC Psychiatry & Mental Health services were ever used, unless the student specifically requests the disclosure of this information. Confidentiality extends past the completion of treatment, past graduation and is lifelong. (See Medical Record Retention)

Confidentiality also extends to public areas, which means that if we see you on or around campus, we will not acknowledge or greet you to protect your privacy, unless you initiate it. It also means that mental health practitioners keep to professional and business-related interactions and professional boundaries.*

Because the campus and local community have many resources that can help in treatment, we will often ask for your written consent to collaborate in your care with academic units and other student support services. Sometimes, we will need your permission to learn about your past care, and we want you to transition your care well to your next providers after graduation. The appropriate authorization form that permits disclosures can be found here: Authorization for Release of Health Information. In these times, we only disclose the minimum necessary amount of health information to get the job done. Although we do not disclose specific information without permission, we may often give general advice to campus and community partners.

Also, due to the sensitive nature of mental health work, your provider will ask that you to disclose up front if you have a close family member or are in a close relationship with someone else your doctor may be treating. In those instances, your provider may find that there is a conflict of interest and may need to make further referrals in treatment. In turn, our expectation is that patients discuss matters with truth, integrity and honesty, without omissions or evasions. Refer to Psychiatry and Mental Health Services' Patient Rights and Responsibilities.

*Consumer Publications – Psychotherapy (CA Dept of Consumer Affairs)