Counseling and Psychological Services
Harrison Bowne "Tersh" Smith Jr. Memorial Center for
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
Location: Student Health Center, 400 Brandon Avenue
(two blocks from UVa Hospital on Jefferson Park Avenue between Monroe and Brandon Avenue)
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 800760, Charlottesville, VA 22908-0760
Daytime Phone (Monday – Friday): 434-243-5150
After Hours and Weekend Crisis Assistance: 434-972-7004
The U.Va. Department of Student Health, Harrison Bowne "Tersh" Smith Jr., Memorial Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is the University of Virginia's primary student counseling clinic. Our mission is to be responsive to the mental health needs of U.Va. students while also providing consultation, education, outreach and crisis management to the broader U.Va. community.
For all students
Check out Student HealthQuest: an excellent self-help program focused on maintaining physical and psychological health.
Getting Started at CAPS: Call 434-243-5150. You will be scheduled for a brief screening phone call within one to two business days. At that time a CAPS clinician will call your cell phone (or land line) and have a 15- to 20-minute phone conversation with you. You will be asked questions about what you need help with and how you are functioning. Based on that discussion you will receive a recommendation that could include:
- Coming to CAPS for a same-day emergency appointment
- Coming to CAPS for an urgent intake within 1 to 3 days
- Coming to CAPS for the next available standard intake
- A referral to other U.Va. offices, a Charlottesville community provider and/or referral to on-line help options
Returning Students – Call 243-5150. If you have previously been seen at CAPS, it is best to ask to speak with your previous provider.
Emergencies (weekdays when open) – Call 243-5150. If you are concerned that you will not be able to avoid hurting yourself or someone else, or you feel that you are in crisis and your efforts to manage it are not successful, call CAPS immediately and ask to speak with the emergency consult clinician.
After Hours or Weekend Emergencies – Call 972-7004 (CAPS Answering Service). If you are concerned that you will not be able to avoid hurting yourself or someone else, or you feel that you are in crisis and your efforts to manage it are not successful, call the CAPS Answering Service immediately and ask to speak with the emergency consult clinician. The answering service will contact the emergency clinician who will call you back and provide assistance.
Concerns Regarding a Student (other than the caller) - If you are concerned about another student, call 243-5150 during business hours, and request the consulting clinician. After hours and on weekends, call 972-7004 and ask to speak with the emergency consult clinician. Consultation regarding students is also available to U.Va. faculty, administrators and staff.
More information for students who are suicidal, in crisis or concerned about someone who is
If you feel like you might hurt yourself, please call 911 immediately.
There is help. Suicide is never the answer – never.
If you want additional consultation about dealing with a suicidal crisis or some other kind of urgent situation, you may contact:
- CAPS – Call us! The main phone number for appointments or for daytime contact with the on-call clinician is 243-5150. After-hours or weekend on-call: 972-7004.
- The Dean of Students Office – Call them at 924-7133 during business hours and 979-6522 (pager) after-hours to reach the Dean On Call. Or, walk in to the office, Peabody Hall, 2nd floor.
- Resident Staff – if you live on-Grounds, your RA is specially trained to help you in these situations. Please call, email or text him or her, or just stop by his/her room.
- Your Association Dean and/or your faculty adviser: These faculty know what to do and what resources are available to get help. They can also be very helpful in figuring out how to manage your academic pressures.
Information about warning signs of emotional/psychological distress
The most effective way to prevent student suicide or the worsening of other student crises is to know the warning signs, take those signs seriously, and respond appropriately. People who are overwhelmed and suicidal can be helped.
Common warning signs of suicide include:
- Expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Rage, uncontrolled anger, or seeking revenge
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
- Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Sudden changes in appearance – stopping showering, shaving, etc
- Changes in appetite and dramatic weight gain/loss
- Withdrawing from friends, family and society
- Anxiety and agitation
- Not sleeping, or sleeping all the time
- Dramatic mood changes
- Expressing no reason for living or no sense of purpose in life
Some signs specific to college students can include:
- Deterioration in quality of academic work
- A drop in grades
- A negative change in classroom performance
- Repeated requests for extensions, missed assignments and repeated absences
- Disorganized or erratic performance
- Essays or creative work that indicate extremes of hopelessness, social isolation, rage, fear or despair
Other things to watch for- suicidal statements or indications of suicidal plans; giving away favorite things; history of previous suicide attempts, substance abuse, unusual and impulsive behavior, unusual hyperactivity, restlessness or lethargy.
Important Phone Numbers:
Office of the Dean of Students
After-hours, on-call staff (pager)
Counseling and Psychological Services
Main phone numbers for appointments or for daytime contact with the on-call clinician
After hours or weekend on-call 972-7004
How to Talk to Someone Who You Think May Be Suicidal
- Don't be afraid to ask "Have you had any thoughts of killing yourself?"
- This will not lead someone to consider suicide!
If the answer is yes ...
- Follow-up with questions that will help you assess the severity or immediacy of risk.
- Plan: "Do you have specific ideas as to how you would kill yourself?
- Means: "How would you follow through with that? Do you have access to (a gun, rope, pills, car, etc.)?"
- Intent: "Do you think you may try to act on your thoughts of killing yourself? "
In all cases …
- Show interest and concern.
- Share observations and inquire about the person's experience.
- Be patient … sometimes this discussion can take time.
What should you not do …
- Don't assume the person is not serious.
- Don't judge the person's feelings.
- Try not to act upset or frightened.
- Don't promise to maintain confidentiality.
And in addition to talking with the person …
- Consult, consult, consult! You're not alone!
- Help connect the student with CAPS
- Seek help from Resident Staff members, the Dean of Students Office, CAPS On-call clinician, and the University Police
Initial Appointments, Confidentiality and Overview of CAPS Services:
Additional Information and Important Links:
UVa Student HealthQuest - a self-help program focused on maintaining physical and psychological health
Professional Training and Development: