ASUC Senate passes resolution calling for expanded ADD, ADHD services at Tang Center

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Kaho Otake/Staff

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The ASUC Senate passed three resolutions, including one regarding the Tang Center and its capacity to treat different learning disabilities, at its regular meeting Wednesday night.

University Health Services, or UHS, does not currently provide diagnostic assessments or medical treatment for attention deficit disorder, or ADD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Current UHS policy requires that students seeking psychiatric care for ADD- or ADHD-like symptoms be referred to external providers.

ASUC senators unanimously passed a resolution calling for UHS to provide the appropriate medications for students with ADD or ADHD, and train and hire on-site staff who can treat these students at the Tang Center. ASUC Senator Teddy Lake, one of the resolution’s primary sponsors, alleged that the widespread abuse of drugs typically used to treat ADD and ADHD — including Adderall and Ritalin — could disincentivize the Tang Center from providing them.

According to Tang Center spokesperson Tami Cate, the Tang Center’s pharmacy is not equipped to dispense ADHD and ADD medication as it is a controlled substance, and the pharmacy must meet state and federal regulations before being able to prescribe it.

Cate added that UHS is looking into expanding the pharmacy’s physical space so that it can meet these standards.

“UHS is very interested in expanding services regarding the treatment of ADHD/ADD,” Cate said in an email. “And part of the commitment we have to students and (the) Berkeley community at large is that we do it in a way that ensures long-term success.”

UHS psychiatrists provide diagnoses and comprehensive treatment for a wide variety of conditions including anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and substance use disorders, according to Cate. The resolution also demands that students with ADD or ADHD be treated by these existing psychiatrists at the Tang Center, rather than be referred out-of-network.

ASUC Senator Zach Carter, the resolution’s other primary sponsor, said it can be very “nerve-wracking” for students in need of care who are referred to an external provider, especially for those who don’t know how to navigate the health care landscape.

Cate said in an email that although UHS psychiatrists are generally trained to treat and manage ADHD and ADD, the current model of care is not set up for properly assessing and treating these disorders, which is a “very involved” and “resource intensive” process.

Lake said the changes outlined in Wednesday night’s resolution are “radical” and the process of coming to an agreement with UHS could take years. Although her and Carter’s terms in the senate are nearing their end, Lake said she expects next year’s senate class to carry the project forward.

The issue was initially brought to her and Carter’s attention by a student at a Disabled Students’ Program forum earlier this year.

“This was something that manifested itself off the cuff and there needs to be a willingness for senators to pick up projects as they arise,” Carter said. “The times that I’ve done that have been the most rewarding for me.”

Anjali Shrivastava is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anjalii_shrivas.