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Nevadans turn to therapy resources 2-years after COVID-19 shutdown in Las Vegas

It's been nearly two years since the Las Vegas Strip was shutdown due to COVID-19.
Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 8:22 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Nearly two years ago today, the world-famous Las Vegas Strip was shut down due to the COVID-19 outbreak, leading Governor Steve Sisolak to shut down casinos, bars, and dine-in restaurants.

That disruption in routine put thousands of Nevadans into a state of survival mode for much of the last two years, according to local mental health experts.

Nevada clinicians said they’re now seeing long-term impacts of the pandemic shutdowns. The impact on Nevadans’ mental has prompted state-level changes for streamlining the clinician licensing process.

Dr. Sheldon A. Jacobs, PSYD, LMFT, sits on the board that oversees all the licensees in the state of Nevada: The State of Nevada Board of Examiners MFT’s and CPC’s.

He said historically, it’s taken several months for people applying for their license to practice. The delay has affected Nevada’s ability to attract counselors from out-of-state.

“One of the issues for a long period of time is that it’s been hard for licensees from other states to get licenses in our state because of the process,” Jacobs said.

It took six months for Courtney Dandy-Fralick to get hers several years ago.

“It’s a barrier, because then people don’t have any certainty,” said Dandy-Fralick, MSC, LMFT. She founded The Healthy Foundations Center in Southern Nevada.

The modifications recently made by the board include moving the paperwork submissions process online, as well as the licensure awarding process.

Jacobs said they have been meeting more often on the topic, and added that their board’s leadership has focused more staff to the cause, given the recent urgency.

Dandy-Fralick, who oversees several interns in the field, said she has noticed a quicker turn-around time in the licensing process. She said it’s been reduced to a three-to-eight week time period.

“People are getting their paperwork in, it’s getting across the desk of the executive director, they’re able to stamp it, greenlight it, and issue the license, and then people are able to officially practice as a therapist once they get the license,” Dandy-Fralick said.

She said that’s a step in the right direction, because there is so much need for mental health resources and therapy.

“We were really business as usual for quite some time. It wasn’t until recently, maybe in the last five months or so, that we started getting a lot of influx of people, that COVID was the specific reason they were coming to therapy,” Dandy-Fralick said.

Jacobs said more families have been reaching out to him searching for mental health support for their children.

“We’ve had the earthquake, and now the tsunami is about to hit,” Jacobs said. “I think that whenever there’s a large-scale crisis, the residual effects tend to be for years on end. So my concerns, my worries, are that we’re going to be dealing with this for quite some time.”

The board’s modifications to the licensing process are also a response to the labor shortage, and Nevada’s poor counselor-to-patient ratio.

Jacobs said the Silver State ranks close to last in this area.

“Our numbers are... much lower than other states when it comes to resources, when it comes to even the number of counselors per capita,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said the board will continue seeking solutions for the current counselor shortage.