Behavioral Health Services Frequently Asked Questions
UW Health Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Madison, Wisconsin, provides assessment and treatment to patients seeking assistance with mental health concerns. We offer many programs and work with community organizations to ensure our patients receive the best care for their needs.
Here are some frequently asked questions about our programs and services:
What behavioral (mental) health concerns does UW Health treat?
There are many common behavioral health concerns that UW Health can help with. Please call (608) 233-3575 to determine if UW Health is a good fit for your needs.
Who can benefit from mental health treatment?
Anyone struggling with thoughts, feelings or behaviors and anyone living with a mental health concern, whether short or long term.
What is mental health treatment?
Treatment depends on the type of mental health concern that you have, its severity and what works best for you. In many cases, a combination of treatments works best.
What treatments are offered for mental health concerns at UW Health?
- Although psychiatric medications don't cure mental illness, they can often significantly improve symptoms. Psychiatric medications can also help make other treatments, such as psychotherapy, more effective. The best medication for you will depend on your particular situation.
- Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, involves talking with a mental health provider. During psychotherapy, you learn about your moods, feelings, thoughts and behavior. With the insight and knowledge you gain, you can develop coping and stress management skills. There are many types of psychotherapy, each with its own approach to improving your mental well-being. Psychotherapy often can be successfully completed in a few months, but in some cases, long-term treatment might be needed. It can take place one-on-one, in a group or with family members.
- Our clinics offer group therapies for adults, teens and children. You can ask your provider for more information about these groups as offerings vary at times.
Hospital and residential treatment programs
- Sometimes mental illness becomes so severe that you need care in a psychiatric hospital. This is generally recommended when you can't care for yourself properly or when you're in immediate danger of harming yourself or someone else. Options include 24-hour inpatient care, partial or day hospitalization, or residential treatment, which offers a temporary supportive place to live. UW Health offers inpatient care on our unit at UW Hospital, and can also refer patients to some of the other more intensive treatment options in your area.
Substance abuse treatment
- Substance abuse can occur along with other mental illnesses and often interferes with treatment. If you can't stop using drugs or alcohol on your own, you need treatment. Substance abuse treatments include:
- Psychotherapy, to learn more about your condition and gain insight
- Medications, which may help ease withdrawal symptoms or reduce cravings
- Inpatient treatment, such as withdrawal (detox) treatment
- Outpatient treatment programs, which require regular attendance for a set period of time
- Support groups or 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.)
Where is mental health treatment offered at UW Health?
For a new patient appointment request call (608)233-3575.
Specialty Behavioral Health Locations
- Behavioral Health and Recovery
- Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute and Clinics (WISPIC)
- Odana Atrium Behavioral Health
- Yahara Behavioral Health
- East Behavioral Health
How do I know when to seek mental health treatment for myself or a loved one?
Each mental health condition has its own set of signs and symptoms. In general, however, professional help may be warranted if you or a loved one experiences:
- Marked change in personality, eating or sleeping patterns
- Inability to cope with problems or daily activities
- Strange or extreme ideas
- Excessive anxiety
- Prolonged depression or loss of interest or enjoyment
- Thinking or talking about suicide
- Substance abuse
- Extreme mood swings or excessive anger, hostility or violent behavior
Many people who have mental health conditions consider their signs and symptoms a normal part of life or avoid treatment out of shame or fear. If you're concerned about your mental health or a loved one's mental health, don't hesitate to seek advice.
What if I’m feeling suicidal, or I’m worried that my loved one is thinking of taking his or her life?
Seek immediate assistance. You can call 911, or the Dane County Crisis Line at (608) 280-2600, the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text the Crisis Text Line by texting "Go" to 741741.
How do I talk to my loved one about getting treatment?
A bit of helpful advice from mentalhealth.gov: Do you need help starting a conversation about mental health? Try leading with these questions and make sure to carefully listen to your friend or family member's response.
- I’ve been worried about you. Can we talk about what you are experiencing? If not, who are you comfortable talking to?
- What can I do to help you to talk about issues with your parents or someone else who is responsible and cares about you?
- What else can I help you with?
- I am someone who cares and wants to listen. What do you want me to know about how you are feeling?
- Who or what has helped you deal with similar issues in the past?
- Sometimes talking to someone who has dealt with a similar experience helps. Do you know of others who have experienced these types of problems who you can talk with?
- It seems like you are going through a difficult time. How can I help you to find help?
- How can I help you find more information about mental health problems?
- I’m concerned about your safety. Have you thought about harming yourself or others?
When talking about mental health problems:
- Communicate in a straightforward manner
- Speak at a level appropriate to a person’s age and development level (preschool children need fewer details as compared to teenagers)
- Discuss the topic when and where the person feels safe and comfortable
- Watch for reactions during the discussion and slow down or back up if the person becomes confused or looks upset
Is my mental health care confidential?
UW Health complies with state and federal rules and regulations regarding patient confidentiality which will be discussed once treatment starts.
Who will be providing treatment?
There are many types of mental health care professionals. Working with them is easier when you know about their different treatment roles.
The following professionals are able to prescribe medication at our clinics. They may also provide assessments, diagnoses and therapy.
- Primary Care Providers: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology doctors are often able to treat common mental health concerns and actually prescribe the majority of mental health medications in the United States. View Our Primary Care Providers
- Psychiatrists: Psychiatrists are licensed medical doctors with medical and psychiatric training. They can diagnose mental health conditions and prescribe and monitor medications and also offer counseling and provide therapy. View Our Psychiatrists
- Residents are psychiatrists in training and are able to care for patients under the direction of board certified psychiatrists at our clinics.
- Clinical Psychologists: Clinical psychologists with a doctoral degree in psychology are trained to make diagnoses and provide individual and group therapy. View Our Psychologists
- Interns are clinical psychologists in training and can provide therapy under the direction of clinical psychologists at our clinics.
- Clinical Social Workers: Clinical social workers have a master’s degree in social work and are trained to make diagnoses and provide individual and group counseling, case management and advocacy. Clinical social workers often work in hospitals or clinics or in private practice. Licensed, independent social workers (LCSW) have undergone an extra certification process.
- Counselors: Counselors are trained to diagnose and provide individual and group counseling. Counselors may focus on different areas and can have titles such as: Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (CADAC) and Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT).
Who can come with me to my initial appointment?
You can decide who you want to bring with you for support.
What will happen when I arrive?
When you visit our clinics, reception staff are available to guide you through check-in. After your initial visit, check-in kiosks may be available for a speedy check-in.
How long is a typical appointment?
Initial visits are typically 60 min long. Follow-up visits can be 30-60 minutes long depending on the type of provider you are seeing.
How long will I be in treatment?
Length of treatment varies depending upon the problems you are facing, and the nature of the treatments that you and your provider select. You and your provider can work together to decide how long you should be in treatment to gain the most benefit possible.
What can I do if my provider is not a good fit?
Your fit with your provider can strengthen your response to treatment. If you feel that your provider is not a good fit, you can talk with them about seeing someone else (all providers are trained to help patients in this situation). Your current provider may need to see you one more time to officially transition care before you see your new provider, as this is part of a healthy therapeutic relationship.
Where do I begin to get started with mental health care?
You can call the UW Health Behavioral Health Access Line at (608) 233-3575. UW Health accepts many forms of insurance however; you may want to check with your insurance company regarding coverage for behavioral health services.
How do I know if my insurance will cover mental health treatment?
The best way to find out is to contact your insurance company. You can find the customer service number on the back of your insurance card.
Where can I go if I don’t have insurance and can’t afford to pay out of pocket?
There may be several community facilities that provide a sliding fee scale based on your income. If you have a UW Health primary care provider, you may contact the UW Health Financial Assistance Program at (877) 278-6437.
What if I need help with transportation, food stamps, or other social needs?
Our UW Health Patient Resources department can help answer these types of questions and direct you to people and places that can assist you. They can be reached at (608) 821-4819.