Headshot of Sandra Owens, Ph.D.

Sandra Owens, Ph.D.


Sandra Owens, MSW, PhD, is a tenured Associate Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) School of Social Work. Dr. Owens earned a bachelor of arts in social work and a master of social work degree from UNLV, and she also earned a doctoral degree in social welfare from the University of California, Berkeley. She has research expertise in the areas of integrated mental and behavioral health care, and her research projects, trainings and publications focus on the empirical knowledge and skills necessary for social work practitioners and family caregivers to provide effective, culturally competent care to children, adults and the elderly. She has published journal articles, encyclopedia entries, book chapters, and newsletter articles on topics such as elder caregiving, respite care for parents of special needs children in the foster care system, the mental health conditions of children, adults and seniors, and the bio-psycho-social demographics of youth in the Clark County School District. During her 25-year career as a social worker Dr. Owens has taught and mentored hundreds of university students and practicing social workers at the local, state, national and international levels. Dr. Owens is committed to assisting non-profit agencies with meeting their organizational goals, and to helping improve the myriad problems facing individuals, families and communities. Dr. Owens is actively involved in leadership roles in a variety of community and university organizations, and she has served as President’s Fellow in the cabinet of UNLV President Neal Smatresk. On July 1, 2016 Dr. Owens began her tenure as the president of the UNLV chapter of the Nevada Faculty Alliance, an affiliate of the American Association of University Professors

Since beginning her professorship in 2000 at the school of social work at UNLV, Dr. Owens has secured over $3,390,000.00 in research grants and contracts. For example, in 2015 Dr. Owens and her Co-Principal Investigators received a Substance and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant for $940,000 to provide free Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) training to 900 university students, clinical practitioners, and allied health professionals training and working in Southern Nevada. And in 2014 Dr. Owens and her Co-Principal Investigator received a $1.44 million HRSA Behavioral Health Education Workforce and Training grant to provide integrated behavioral health care training and $10,000 practicum stipends to 108 MSW students. Dr. Owens was the lead investigator for a $100,000 assessment funded by The Lincy Institute. There were three components to the assessment: (1) The Household Assessment—a survey of 600 households to determine prevalence of mental health conditions; (2) The Service Utilization Assessment—interviews with 200 individuals (youth and adults) who are currently utilizing local mental health services; and (3) The Workforce Assessment—an examination of the clinical workforce’s skills, competency, professional backgrounds, preparation, and their perceptions of the gaps in mental health service delivery. Later in 2016 the data collected from the Lincy Institute 3-part mental and behavioral health workforce assessment will be disseminated to the public at large, legislators, local non-profit agencies, and administrators and practitioners working in city, county and Nevada state governmental and non-governmental agencies.