Renovated mental health clinic opens doors thanks to donor, university support

Ellen Ijebor, an NMSU Counseling and Educational Psychology graduate student, works in the newly renovated mental health clinic, located on the ground floor of O’Donnell Hall.

A formerly drab and cluttered space tucked away on the ground floor of O’Donnell Hall has transformed into a welcoming, comfortable place for students to seek and provide help.

The NMSU Counseling and Educational Psychology department’s renovated clinic opened at the end of January 2020. Thanks to support from the state legislature, NMSU College of Education interim Dean Susan Brown, Ashley Furniture and Abel Covarrubias ’96 ’98, the clinic has been given fresh coats of paint; new recording equipment, furniture and artwork; soundproofed walls and doors; additional counseling and observation areas; and white noise machines. The clinic will also receive a system to store health files electronically.

In 2019, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill to provide $100,000 to the CEP department’s clinic. The facility also added a state-of-the-art recording technology system that allows for each session to be recorded for training purposes.

Interim head Eve Adams says that with the help of Brown and NMSU senior government affairs director Ricardo Rel, they were able to inform state legislators about the need for the clinic upgrades. The project received the support of State Sen. Mary Kay Papen, who is a proponent of improving the behavioral health workforce in Doña Ana County, as well as increasing behavioral health services in the area.

“It feels more professional with the really nice artwork and furniture,” Adams says.

Brett Opelt, a third-year doctoral student in the CEP department, says he has been in the clinic since his first year and has seen the improvements first-hand.

“It feels more like an actual counseling clinic, especially now that we have nice furniture and soundproof walls,” Opelt says. “I think it’s just more inviting and more welcoming.”

Doña Ana County has only 4.31 behavioral health providers per 1,000 people, and has been designated as a mental health professional shortage area by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Part of the clinic’s future plans are to widen the scope of services offered to include learning disability assessments and psychological assessments.

Adriana M. Chávez ’19