New mental health fee to help UNLV students in need

The pressure to perform weighed heavily on Sierra Bumanglag.

She worked 40 hours each week to pay for her undergraduate coursework at UNLV, while also setting her sights on graduate school.

“I was trying to make sure that I had top-notch grades,” said Bumanglag, now 25. “I started to feel like I couldn’t do it. I wanted to give up.”

Her professor and mentor urged her to contact the school’s Counseling and Psychological Services. It was fall 2016 — mental health appointments at the university reached a peak of nearly 11,000 the year before — and Bumanglag learned that it would be at least a month or two before she would be attending regular appointments with a school therapist.

Not anymore. At least that’s the hope.

Last year, students lobbied for a new $25 per semester mental health fee, and Jamie Davidson, associate vice president for student wellness, said the fee should begin to pay dividends as soon as this fall.

Until now, wait times after the initial intake appointment could stretch as long as eight weeks.

“The fall will be the first test,” Davidson said. “I’m very confident that with the additional providers we’ve put into place that it will be much easier for students to get in. My goal is that a student never has to wait more than three weeks.”

Lisa Adams Somerlot, the past president of the American College Counseling Association, said that providing mental health services to students in a timely manner is key, especially when it comes to the side effects.

“Lack of sleep, the inability to concentrate, headaches — it can be quite devastating for a college student,” said Adams Somerlot, who is also the director of Counseling and Accessibility at the University of West Georgia. “If a student is feeling depressed, anxious or suicidal, it can go from mild to moderate in time, and things can get worse because they need help.”

Davidson has added 10 new hires to the wellness center staff because of revenue from the new fee, with some of the hires coming on board this past spring and some a few weeks ago. The new staffers, both part time and full time, range from entry level to professional employees, including four psychologists and two doctoral psychology interns.

Growing movement

“Students were awesome in advocating for this fee,” Davidson said. “I just know this will make a big difference for our students. We worked hard to hire the best people, and we’re looking forward to working hard and serving our students well.”

UNLV isn’t alone in this trend.

Student government leaders at University of Colorado, Boulder, for example, proposed a mental health fee that was approved in 2015. The fee was doubled last year.

“It’s been slowly happening over time,” Adams Somerlot said. “I think that college students today have real awareness and education around mental health and experience less stigma around mental health than the previous generation. They want that service.”

Adams Somerlot said she believes the increased demand for mental health services is related to the post-9/11 era.

“This generation of students coming to college were born just previous to 9/11,” she said. “Their whole lives have been about this conflict, about this event. These young people have not grown up with a sense of safety that many of their parents did. They tend to be more anxious, and a majority of their growing-up years happened during the recession. They did not grow up with this sense of economic safety like the millennials before them did.”

The Oct. 1 shooting on the Las Vegas Strip placed an added burden on staff, Davidson said. The staff saw 719 students in crisis, or “emergency” sessions during the 2017-18 academic year — a 21 percent increase over the year before.

“It’s not necessarily surprising, given the October shooting and everything that we went through,” Davidson said.

Nevada State College in Henderson has been experimenting with the number of days and length of time that mental health appointments are available to students. In fall 2017, the college began contracting with All About You Counseling to provide services to students on campus, and increased the number of days from one to two. This fall, the college will offer services three days a week.

“We’ve had to experiment with which day of the week worked best,” said Gwen Sharp, the associate vice provost for academic initiatives at the college. “We tried on Mondays, but that didn’t work great for student schedules. How do you provide services for students who have busy schedules, or only come to one evening class?”

The college used to solely refer students to outside providers, and once had a contract with UNLV, but from the data the college collected from UNLV and other outside providers, students rarely followed through on seeking services.

“It was terrible,” Sharp said. “We saw that this is not functioning as a service when you look at the tiny percentage of students that actually go.”

Sharp said it was for myriad reasons, including the fact that students would feel overwhelmed with having to drive to UNLV and navigate such a larger campus. In addition, students would sometimes have to wait six weeks to get an intake appointment with an outside provider.

“Let’s say a faculty member refers to us a student who’s in a moment of distress,” Sharp said. “We’ve got the services right here, and we will walk over with you, or we’ll get you on the phone in our office. It’s better than us saying we have this provider, and it’s across town. You often have a very short window and we want to help them take the next step without putting up a lot of barriers.”

Helping more students

The College of Southern Nevada uses the same approach.

In 2016, when the two clinicians who worked for CSN departed, the program was left in limbo and the wait list for services grew to about 70 students. The college then began contracting with Mojave Mental Health and worked through the backlog of students.

The college found that the arrangement worked so well — better even than having clinicians on staff — that the contract has continued, said Juanita Chrysanthou, vice president for student affairs.

“It’s ideal,” she said. “We haven’t had a wait list, and all of the contacts are still made with the college. The service is coordinated with Mojave, and they show up wherever the student needs to have an appointment.”

Chrysanthou said each campus has a dedicated private office for the appointments to take place. In 2016-17, Mojave saw 234 students, and the number increased to 333 last year.

“It’s a pretty good increase,” she said. “It’s a relief for me for us to be at this point where it’s working, and it’s working well.”

Contact Natalie Bruzda at or 702-477-3897. Follow @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.

VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Interfaith Amigos speak in Las Vegas
Celebrity photographer dedicates dance book to Las Vegas shooting victims
Behind the scenes with local celebrity photographer Jerry Metellus as he talks about his Dance For Vegas coffee book dedicated to the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Dreamsickle Kids Foundation founder Gina Glass talks awareness
Gina Glass, 35, founded Dreamsickle Kids Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell disease in Nevada. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Meadows School founding kindergarten teacher retires after 34 years at the school
Linda Verbon, founder of the The Meadows School's kindergarten program and the first faculty member hired at the school, retired in the spring after 34 years at The Meadows. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like