Medical Leave Of Absence Reexamined

Counseling and Psychiatric Services will form a support group for students returning from a medical leave of absence as part of a series of recommendations from Georgetown’s Mental Health Advisory Board seeking to improve the medical leave of absence process, according to a campus-wide email Wednesday.

Currently, students returning to campus from medical leaves of absence are required to check in with Health Education Services before their arrival and to arrange requests for academic accommodations with the Academic Resource Center individually.

Will Emery (COL ’19), who will co-chair the MHAB next year, said the new CAPS services will better help students during a particularly challenging time.

“There are few situations more challenging for a student than a voluntary MLOA. It is great to see CAPS offering students avenues of support when they return,” Emery wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Returning students will also be able to provide CAPS with their preferred support outreach group — such as Campus Ministry or deans — to reach out to them when they return to campus.

In addition, CAPS will develop a document to support students on MLOA in finding care at home.
Director of Residential Ministry Rev. Jonathan Rice, who co-chairs the MHAB, said the changes are designed to better support students throughout the MLOA process.

“We hope the recommendations we’ve made will help students from the time they decide to take a medical leave, throughout their care, until they successfully re-integrate back into campus life,” Rice wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Emeritus Counseling Director at the University of Delaware Dr. John Bishop will also publish a report on Georgetown’s MLOA processes in the next two weeks after consulting students who took MLOA, deans and university mental health professionals this year.

The MHAB has made additional recommendations this year, including changes to peer-oriented student support services, sexual assault protocol, deans’ efforts to better support students and services provided by HES — including the Stall Seat Journal — and feedback mechanisms for HES and other campus services.

In that vein, during its first year, the MHAB created an online client satisfaction survey for students to submit feedback to CAPS in lieu of the existing paper form in the waiting room.

The MHAB, which comprises eight students and eight adult members from the community, was formed this year by the Division of Student Affairs to ensure an ongoing conversation about mental health, according to Rice. Department heads from services related to mental health, such as CAPS, were chosen to serve on the board, while former Georgetown University Student Association Undersecretary of Mental Health Ben Johnson (NHS ’17) nominated students to serve on the board.

Rice said MHAB is committed to improving both mental health resources and the campus climate toward mental health.

“The Mental Health Advisory Board is a newly formed team of students and professionals committed to evaluating mental health support organizations, student mental health organizations and changing the conversation about mental health on campus in a more positive direction,” Rice wrote.

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One Comment

  1. Sylvia Levy says:

    Just a note, the following is not true:

    “Currently, students returning to campus from medical leaves of absence are required to check in with Health Education Services before their arrival and to arrange requests for academic accommodations with the Academic Resource Center individually.”

    Most medical leaves are taken on a case-by-case basis! Students work with their deans and sometimes with CAPS or Case Management staff upon return to campus.

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