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Confidentiality, Medical Records, and Employment

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Students and others may worry that parents, friends, or others will find out about a visit to MIT Medical’s Student Mental Health and Counseling Services. They may also wonder how seeing a mental health clinician may affect a future job search. This page has answers to some of the most common questions about these topics.

Confidentiality

If I visit Student Mental Health and Counseling Services, will my parents, friends, or teachers find out?

No. Everything you discuss with a mental health clinician, as well as other information about your treatment or diagnosis, is “privileged information” and cannot be given to any other person without your permission.

There are just a very few exceptions to this policy of absolute confidentiality:

  • If a patient is in serious danger of harming self or others, the clinician can notify other people to protect the patient and others.
  • If another individual is in danger, that person can be informed.
  • If a patient is involved in abuse or neglect of a child or an elderly person, the clinician is required by law to inform the appropriate agency.

Will my parents find out if I use their insurance for mental health prescriptions like antidepressants?

MIT Medical will not release any information about prescriptions filled using MIT Student Health Insurance Plan (MIT SHIP) coverage. However, if you are covered by a parent’s or spouse’s insurance plan, as part of the billing process, that parent or spouse may receive some information about your prescriptions or other services you receive outside of MIT Medical. For more information and a complete answer to this question, call the insurance company’s billing department or look for a toll-free number for “behavioral health coverage” or “mental health coverage” on the back of your insurance card.

How do I access or transfer my mental health records?

If you want a copy of your mental health records sent to another provider:

  1. Download and complete the Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information (Mental Health Record) by MIT Medical.
  2. Fax the completed form to 617-253-0162, or mail it to the  Student Mental Health and Counseling Services, MIT Medical E23-368, 77 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02139.

If you want another provider to send your mental health record to MIT:

  1. Download and complete the Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information (Medical Record) to MIT Medical.
  2. Send the completed form to the doctor or facility from whom you wish to obtain your medical record.

Employment issues

If a job application asks if I’ve ever been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, do I have to answer “yes”?

Not necessarily. People come to Student Mental Health and Counseling for many reasons other than “psychiatric disorders.” For example, therapy that helps you cope with normal life stressors such as breakups, relationship issues, academic stress, or the loss of a loved one would not typically be viewed as therapy for a “psychiatric disorder.”

If I apply for a job that requires a security clearance, will the fact that I have been seen at the Student Mental Health and Counseling Services have an impact on my clearance?

Probably not. Companies that require a security clearance prior to employment typically care more about your potential risk to security than about the details of your medical record. Usually the agency doing the clearance will ask you to sign a release that gives us permission to release information. After that, the agency will simply ask your clinician for their professional opinion as to whether or not you are a risk to security.