Marymount launches free mental health counseling clinic open to the public

Marymount launches free mental health counseling clinic open to the public


In a new initiative to address the growing mental health needs of the wider community, Marymount University has introduced a free counseling clinic that is open to the general public and the University community in collaboration with Marymount’s Student Counseling Services.

Launched in January, the endeavor reflects the University’s commitment to serving others while also offering valuable clinical experience to students in Marymount’s CACREP-accredited master’s programs in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Pastoral Clinical Mental Health Counseling, as well as its doctoral program in Counselor Education and Supervision that will begin in Fall 2024.

The clinic’s staff of dedicated Counseling master’s students will operate under the supervision of experienced faculty and staff members. This approach ensures that clients receive high-quality care while also providing an enriching learning environment for future mental health professionals.

“Our mission at Marymount University involves not only educating our students but also serving the community,” said Dr. Lisa Jackson-Cherry, Director of Marymount’s School of Counseling. “The launch of this free mental health counseling training clinic aligns with our commitment to promoting well-being and providing valuable experiential learning opportunities for our students.”

In addition to preparing counselors-in-training with the necessary skills, knowledge and experiences required in the profession, the new clinic also aims to provide a needed service to the community by offering equitable clinical mental health counseling services to diverse populations across Virginia. Employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors is projected to grow 18 percent from 2022 to 2032, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This increase is much faster than the average for all occupations, illustrating the high demand for behavioral health care amidst a growing mental health crisis in the U.S.

Recent federal data shows the number of suicides has hit a record high, while the nation’s youth report worsening mental health – with 42 percent of high school-aged students stating they ‘felt so sad or hopeless for the past two weeks that they could not go about their usual activities.’

“It’s our goal to increase mental health care equity and assist in eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health within marginalized communities through both telehealth and in-person counseling services available to everyone,” explained Bonnie Kuo, Coordinator of Graduate Counseling and Clinical Experiences at Marymount University. “Our intentional outreach to underserved populations and disproportionately impacted communities will assist individuals, couples, families and groups who are experiencing mental health symptoms and stressors.”

The new clinic is currently operating from the sixth floor of the University’s Ballston Center, with staff reaching out to the nearby community as well as rural areas through telehealth appointments. In-person sessions are planned to be offered starting this summer. Counseling students working in the clinic are able to apply for stipend funding through Marymount’s $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which the institution received in 2021.

“Mental health is a critical component of overall well-being – and by offering free counseling services, Marymount is contributing to the betterment of the whole community while holistically developing our students,” added Dr. Pamela Slaven-Lee, Dean of Marymount’s College of Health and Education.

Marymount University invites the community to take advantage of this free mental health counseling clinic. To schedule an appointment or learn more about services offered, please email or call 703-908-7611.