Meet UW Law’s new mental health therapist
The UW School of Law is thrilled to introduce Phil Lentz as the law school’s new mental health therapist.
Lentz brings a wealth of experience working with university students, conducting prevention and outreach services, providing one-on-one therapy and developing wellness programming. His therapeutic services for students are free and do not require health insurance.
In this newly created role, he says his goal is to effectively support students so they can be successful both in and out of the classroom. He also seeks to address the stigma around mental health care generally — an aim that is particularly important given the notoriously rigorous nature of law school and the legal field more broadly.
“There are very tangible and reasonable reasons that people avoid seeking mental health — the idea that, ‘If I seek help, that makes me fundamentally weak,’” Lentz says. “So, part of my initial push is to normalize a lot of what goes into that mindset. We don’t want students to feel like they have to make a choice between helping themselves or helping their careers. It shouldn't be an ‘either/or;’ you should be able to do both.”
We don’t want students to feel like they have to make a choice between helping themselves or helping their careers.
Lentz studied business at Oklahoma State University and the University of Miami before earning a master’s in counseling psychology. He went on to work in residential facilities for patients with a wide range of diagnoses and presentations, and he spent several years in the community mental health industry splitting his time between therapy and case management. Before joining UW Law, he worked in the counseling center at Seattle Pacific University.
Each experience offered something new and meaningful. In managing individual cases, he engaged in wide range of advocacy work helping clients learn and navigate the mental health system. Much of this work involved communities of color and low-income groups, who are disproportionately impacted by the cracks in the system.
Lentz brings this mentality into his new role, and he says it is critically important to approach this work with a deep understanding of the realities of the world in which law students find themselves today.
“Another important aspect of my position is the social justice component, which has been a rising concern within the department,” Lentz says. “As a culture and society, we are moving in that direction. But specifically, for the students whom this is important to, this is going to be a big part of my role.”
Lentz has a joint appointment with the UW Counseling Center and UW Law’s Office of Student Life. He primarily serves students through one-on-one therapy, and he will be an instrumental leader in shaping the law school’s mental health program going forward.