Chemistry Department Hires Private Psychiatrist

A recent University-wide study of Harvard's mental health resources found them under-staffed and inefficient. The Chemistry department, which has been faulted for isolating its students, has launched a new plan for student mental health.

It seems a good move, but some Harvard experts are withholding their full support.

After a highly publicized suicide of a chemistry graduate student about 18 months ago, the chemistry department has tried to improve its graduate students' quality of life.


In addition to building a student center and offering more social activities, the department has recently employed a private psychiatrist, Edward M. Hallowell, clinical instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (HMS), to give chemistry graduate students both practical and emotional advice.

"We have opened up confidential channels for any graduate student and post-doc to seek counseling in a private setting, in the conditions they want it, without knowledge getting back to anyone else," said Weld Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry James G. Anderson, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

No other academic department has made a similar private resource available to its students. The program is completely funded by the chemistry department, and open only to the department's students

That has made some of Harvard's mental health resources community nervous.

Charles P. Ducey, director of the Bureau of Study Counsel, which provides advice and counseling for undergraduates, said that though the initiative is a creative one, he disagrees with the chemistry department's strategy.

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