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(Photo by Camalot Todd)
(Photo by Camalot Todd)

UNLV Offers a Variety of Centers for Mental Health Services

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UNLV students in crisis have places to go on campus for mental health counseling.

The university offers three major service clinics for mental health — the Center for Individual, Couple and Family Counseling, The Practice and the Student Counseling and Psychological Services.

Each program offers counseling or psychological testing for UNLV students that are either free, or at a reduced rate.

The Center for Individual, Couple and Family Counseling is a clinic that trains students in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program.

According to Katherine Hertlein, an associate professor and Program director at the Marriage and Family Therapy Program, it is one of the best facilities in the country. Hertlein says this program excels because of the faculty and how the program is structured.

Students must have 500 hours of time in the clinic under the supervision of accredited and licensed teachers.

The staff is on site either watching behind a glass window or in the room said Hertlein.

“It’s very convenient for students to knock on our doors if they need our help,” Hertlein said.

The program is set up for students take their theory and ethics classes before they see clients their first summer. They spend three semesters at the clinic and two semesters in community said Colleen Peterson, director of the clinic.

This program is free to students, faculty and staff, but is also offered to the public on a sliding scale based on income and family size.

Peterson says this program offers service to those who couldn’t afford it otherwise. It has offered $500,000 – $750,000 worth of treatment for free to those who otherwise could not afford this program said Hertlein.

The clinic gets referrals from Child Protective Services, family and friends, individuals and school systems.

“Las Vegas has a real need for family services,” Hertlein said. “It has a failing grade for family services because there’s a high rate of divorce, because of how hard the recession hit Las Vegas. This program presents real benefits.”

Hertlein said the clinic saw a rise in clients due to Nevada’s high unemployment rates during the recession.

“Services exploded,” Hertlein said. “People were struggling with real world issues like joblessness and homelessness.”

The average income clients report is $30,000 to $34,999 per year according to the most recent fiscal year findings. 35 percent of the clients seen by the Center for Individual, Couple and Family Counseling make less than $18,000 per year.

The average fee paid is only $9, and 55 percent of patients seen pay $5 or less.

The clinic offers support for anxiety, parenting skills, couples therapy and more. However, it does not offer psychiatric evaluations or medicine.

The center screens for people who are actively abusing substances, are actively suicidal or in a physical abusive relationship. Since these conditions require extensive support the clinic refers them to facilities that can support them.

However the other two facilities, The Practice and the Student Counseling and Psychological Services, do offer clinical psychological testing.

The Student Counseling Psychological Services, or CAPS, is the only center that provides medicine.

CAPS is located on the first level of the Student Wellness Center, and has no office co-pay. All services are free with the exception of the cost of medicine and certain psychological tests.

UNLV student Brandon Salyerz, 20, knows about some of these services like CAPS, but finds it hard to learn about them.

“I don’t think they do a good job advertising these services because their website is clogged and inefficient,” Salyerz said.

CAPS is open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday during the academic year. During the summer the clinic’s facilities are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The last clinic that offers mental health service on campus is The Practice which focuses on counseling, psychotherapy and clinical psychological testing according to the website according to Noelle Lefforge, the assistant director at The Practice. They are located at CEB room 226.

This service helps with anxiety, fear, trauma and more.

“Therapy isn’t a quick fix. Life is a struggle and we need to be realistic about that,” Lefforge said. “It’s important to dispel the myth that’s perpetuated out there-that if you just do this 8 steps you’ll get better. The first couple of sessions are dispelling that myth. It takes work.”

The program is similar to the program that Hertlein and Peterson are active in at Center for Individual, Couple and Family Counseling.

“I love this program,” Hertlein said. “Just seeing the resilience of people in this program- clients and my students and being at UNLV everyone has a hard Midwest work ethic and it completely blew me away.”

At our center we work families to help the child. Families give you a sense of who you are even as you grow into an adult said Peterson.

“Children who suffered from sexual abuse or violence, who never caught a break. They show up to every session and ready to work,” Hertlein said. “I’m not going to let this defeat me.”

“There is a stigma attached to seeking therapy, but once they come if they come it’s beneficial,” Hertlein said.

However mental health stigma does interfere with treatment said Hertlein.

“I’ve been in this field for 27 years, “Peterson said. “The stigma around seeking out mental health services has decreased, but it’s still there… It’s societal, but people who receive treatment here — through word of mouth — it reduces the stigma.”

Peterson said they work with students on interpersonal skills, depression, test anxiety, managing schedules, healthy eating and sleep schedules.

“There’s research that shows that when you’re being held by your significant other your body goes into a reparative state,” Peterson said. “Mental distress influences health. They’re entwined.”

UNLV student Cierra Cuellar, 20, says that she knows that UNLV offers some services for mental health but not as much as she would like to know.

“We should stress mental health more. It’s just as important as physical health,” Cuellar said. “To an extent just getting the idea out through lectures and speakers coming to class to talk about these services… It’s a great idea- work is stressful and school is stressful.”

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