“We are in need of certified trauma counselors,” it tweeted. And then these details: “If you can volunteer your time, please go to Circus Circus — Ballroom D where you will be given an assignment. . . . We are grateful for the support of our community.”
Long after the dead have been buried and the wounded have returned home, say experts, psychological distress from Sunday night's mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip will linger.
The question is whether Las Vegas specifically, and Nevada generally, will be able to meet the need in the weeks, months and even years to come.
Nevada ranks 51st among all states and the District of Columbia in mental health resources and access to treatment, according to the most recent annual report from Mental Health America, a community-based nonprofit. Ninety percent of severely depressed youths in the state received no treatment or inadequate treatment last year, it noted. Sixteen of Nevada's 17 counties were listed by the federal government as mental-health-professional-shortage areas.
“It is critically important that . . . we do all that we can to offer the help and support that these individuals, families and loved ones need,” Paul Gionfriddo, president and chief executive of Mental Health America, said Monday in a statement that included numbers that survivors and others could call if they wanted to connect with a counselor.
But after all the volunteers have left, Nevada will be largely on its own. State and other data show that there are only 190 licensed psychiatrists in the entire state — seven for every 100,000 residents — and just 390 psychologists. Those numbers are partly a reflection of the severe cuts in mental health spending during the most recent recession, when Nevada saw its general mental health budget plummet by about $60 million over four years. It remains below the national average in per capita expenditures for mental health services, and in February, Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) proposed cutting the budget further.
And things will not get better anytime soon. A total of six psychiatry residents graduated in Nevada this summer, according to Lesley Dickson, executive director of the Nevada Psychiatric Association.
Four of them, she said, have already left the state.