Counseling staff expands to meet students’ mental health needs

UNLV Student Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is expanding its staff by nearly 65% ​​in the coming months as it responds to the growing demand from students for mental health services.

“We have known for some time that the demand for mental health care was outstripping our staffing levels,” said Shauna Landis, director of CAPS. “There is less stigma associated with seeking our services and we have also increased our awareness and education, so several factors are driving the need.”

At previous staffing levels, students’ waiting times for non-crisis and first-time appointments extended to two to three weeks during the busiest points of the semester, Landis said. Additional staff should reduce waiting times.

“We must never wait for individuals in crisis; we always see people in those situations on the same day, ”Landis said. “But waiting times vary for others and we know it’s frustrating.”

Expansion to Shadow Lane Residences and Campus

When fully equipped, CAPS will add six additional counselors, two psychiatrists, and fill newly created support positions, including an associate director, a wellness educator, and an administrative assistant. In total, CAPS will employ 21 counselors, two psychiatrists, two behavioral health workers, two psychiatric nurses and two wellness educators. Including administrative support, the CAPS team will total 33 employees to serve the UNLV community of approximately 30,000 students.

A mental health tax that took effect in autumn 2021 funds new staff. A fee of $ 50 per semester ($ 25 in the summer) for all students enrolled in six or more hours of courses funds all CAPS services. Students accessing CAPS services do not pay any additional fees unless medication, tests, or assessments are required, which are discussed with students in advance.

The new staff requires additional space, so CAPS will expand into a space that will soon be vacant in the SSC-A building.

Additionally, in the fall semester, CAPS will incorporate two consultants into on-campus housing and, by summer 2023, the advisory staff will staff a satellite location on the Shadow Lane campus.

The larger physical footprint is part of an effort to expand access to care, but it also allows CAPS to hire more staff, including eight graduate students, who also provide care.

“We hope that the additional space will allow us to hire trainees, who can also provide education and consulting services. CAPS participates in an American Psychological Association (APA) internship and doctoral internship program, “Landis noted.” Opening offices in residences allows us to work closely with Housing and Residential Life staff to provide education and greater interaction with students “.

Expanded attendance can increase student comfort in seeking mental health services.

“The faculty, staff, and students have done a great job spreading the word about the exceptional care offered at CAPS,” said Jamie Davidson, associate vice president for wellness, who is also a psychologist. “We are so grateful that we now have the funds to keep up with the growing demand from students for emotional wellbeing services by expanding in-person and online access to these crucial services.”

CAPS has held four of the newly created positions, but the demand for mental health services is growing nationwide and the job market for such professionals is strong. “In Las Vegas, there are a lot of positions currently being advertised,” Landis said. “This made him competitive.”

Landis says the UNLV benefits package, which includes a pension of up to 15.5% of the employee’s salary and tuition credits, sets CAPS apart from other career opportunities.

[Learn more about UNLV jobs.]

In addition to expanding staff to meet student needs, Landis says CAPS is developing its innovative methods of delivering care, including group counseling, workshops, telemedicine counseling sessions, and self-help resources.

“We know that many of our students come to UNLV with unique needs,” said B. Keith Rogers, acting vice president for student affairs, who oversees student welfare and CAPS. “The expansion of CAPS is an example of how we are listening to students and taking actions that have a positive impact on their personal and academic lives.”

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