Mental health town hall gives students access

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Mason Turner, M.D., Rosemary Lombard, MBA, Jamie Davidson, Ph.D., Keith Whitfield, Ph.D make up the panel at President’s Mental Health Town Hall in Las Vegas, Nev. on February 7, 2023. The four answered mental health related questions from the community.

In an effort to provide more mental health resources to the campus community, UNLV hosted a mental health town hall and resource fair Tuesday, Feb. 7, at the UNLV’s Strip View Pavilion at the Thomas & Mack Center. During the seven-hour event, attendees visited to hear President Whitfield speak at a town hall, enjoy refreshments with music, and visit resource booths from a variety of mental health organizations. 

According to Mental Health America, Nevada ranks last in access to mental health services. A report published by UNLV’s Brookings Mountain West & The Lincy Institute this past year detailed this ranking by also specifying that Nevada ranked 51st and last among the 50 states in overall mental health rankings. With the Center for Disease Control ranking Nevada 7th for the overall rate of suicides, campus leaders responded to the crisis by hosting biannual resources fairs for students. These past fairs often included workshops, discussions, and resources booths similar to the ones present at this Tuesday’s fair.

During the first portion of the event, the town hall featured three guest speakers alongside Whitfield: Jamie Davidson, UNLV’s associate vice president for student wellness; Rosemary Lombard, executive director for The Center for Mind-Body Medicine; and Mason Turner, senior medical director for Behavioral Health and Intermountain Healthcare. 

Key topics discussed during the town hall event were de-stigmatizing mental health as a topic and finding pathways to foster resilience when approaching sensitive topics. “We need to normalize mental health the same way we discuss physical health,” said Turner. “There’s no difference between caring for your mental health and physical health. Set examples for those around us and don’t shy away from these conversations.”

Outlining the need for destigmatizing mental health, Lombard chimed in by sharing her experiences working at the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. “There is an ongoing set of skills for conversation to normalize how our bodies respond to situations in certain ways,” said Lombard. “Through education, we can give people back some of their agency. If I pay attention, I can understand what my body is saying to me and better manage how I feel.”

Davidson concluded the conversation by outlining that the main takeaway for the town hall was building involvement. “If you heard this and you’re motivated, sign up to one of the classes that we are offering,” said Davidson. 

Following the town hall, the resource fair debuted in the room adjacent to the Strip View Pavilion. Booths that were present at the resource fair were: UNLV’s Couple and Family Therapy, UNLV’s Practice, Tilton’s Therapy, YOU @ UNLV, Pediatric Access Line, Compassionate Las Vegas, UNLV Student Counseling & Psychological Services, Office of Minority Health and Equity, Nevada Council on Problem & Gambling, Better. 

Trey Curtis-Brown, a graduate assistant for the School of Integrated Health Sciences hosted the YOU @ UNLV booth at the event and told the Free Press that he is hopeful for the future of mental health at UNLV. “The implementation of YOU @ UNLV has been very successful,” said Brown. “The YOU @ UNLV portal meets students where they are and grows with them over time.” While Brown graduates this spring, he hopes to see the success of the app continue next year by having the app be actively utilized across campus. 

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