AUSTIN (KXAN) — St. Edward’s University hopes to alleviate a major demand for mental health services in Central Texas.
The university is now offering low-cost mental health counseling, which will be provided by its graduate students.
“It was the right time and the right group of people to put together something that’s really this incredible,” said Bill McHenry, Associate Professor of Counseling at St. Edward’s.
Faculty members see it as more of a public service than anything else.
Individuals, couples and families in the community are eligible for treatment at the cost of a co-pay. No insurance is required.
“We’re doing $15 for individuals, and $20 for couples,” says Coordinator Kerrie Taylor. “But we won’t turn anyone away for lack of pay, so people get to name their price.”
The graduate student counselors will not be able to prescribe medication, but meet a growing demand for mental health counseling in our area.
“We have community partners that offer sliding scale fees that have wait lists anywhere from 300 to 500 people,” said Taylor.
Austin is growing by the day, and there’s often a tie between mental health and our community’s most pressing issues.
“There’s usually a connection between mental health needs and homelessness that most people here see daily,” said Taylor.
The clinic will be housed inside the University’s East Hall.
Counseling rooms are empty now, but that’s because sessions begin next week.
In the meantime, students and faculty having been screening patients, and phones have been ringing off the hook.
The clinic now has a wait list of its own, and is now seeking funding opportunities so it can expand.
“I have people calling saying they haven’t bothered reaching out because they can’t get help,” said Taylor. “They haven’t received help in years.”
The graduate students will be monitored by supervisors, often during counseling sessions.
These sessions will be recorded with the knowledge of patients, so students can receive feedback that will help them learn.
“They’re very well-prepared to be doing this work,” said McHenry.