An ambitious initiative to provide counseling services to Northern Nevada nonprofits that serve youth and adults is deepening the community engagement of the University of Nevada, Reno.
The new initiative draws together the strengths of the University, The Nell J. Redfield Foundation, The Viragh Foundation, Renown Health and the nonprofits that deliver services to youth and adults who face issues such as homelessness, substance abuse and domestic violence. The impetus for the program was a decision by Katherine Viragh and Gerald Smith [from Redfield] to pursue the possibility of such a collaborative at the University level. In response, Provost Jeff Thompson immediately formed a high-priority university work group.
Well-supervised graduate students from University programs that specialize in counseling and psychological services provide counseling services to youths, adults and their families through the program known as the University of Nevada, Reno Community Behavioral Health Collaborative.
Among those who provide counseling services are students from the psychiatric and psychiatric nurse practitioner programs of the University’s Schools of Medicine and Nursing as well students in the substance abuse and licensed-counseling programs from the School of Public Health and College of Education & Human Development.
Ken Coll, a professor of counseling and educational psychology in the University's College of Education & Human Development, played a key role in spearheading the new collaborative program. He said it’s model, is in part an outgrowth of a successful year-old pilot program in which University students provided counseling services at The Eddy House, a Reno nonprofit that serves homeless and at-risk youth.
The collaborative now provides counseling services at Step2, a Reno nonprofit that provides treatment services for women facing substance-abuse issues along with trauma education and intervention and education in domestic violence.
Coll said talks are underway to widen the number of nonprofits served by the collaborative.
The Redfield Foundation, a Reno-based organization that works closely with many nonprofits that serve youth and families, often hears that increased behavioral-health support is one of the agencies’ top priorities, Gerald C. Smith, director of the foundation, said.
“The individuals served by these organizations all face behavioral-health challenges, and they all have needs of one type or another,” Smith said.
The new collaborative, he said, provides a unified mechanism for the delivery of counseling services from the University to nonprofits in the region and helps to ensure that nonprofits, students and University leaders alike share their best practices.
University President Brian Sandoval received a full briefing on the collaborative and strongly supports its mission.
“This new collaborative builds on the University’s strong commitment to meaningful engagement with its community,” Sandoval said. “The University has been designated as a ‘Carnegie Engaged’ institution by The Carnegie Foundation in recognition of the many ways that it makes a positive impact on communities across Nevada. We take our commitment to our communities very seriously, and we are proud that this new collaborative allows us to reach out to some of the most vulnerable of our neighbors.”