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Ground Broken On $25M Children's Mental Health Center

Washburn Mental Health Center For Children
(credit: CBS)

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Washburn Center for Children started 130 years ago as an orphanage. Now it's a facility that serves more than 10,000 people each year.

"There are several hundred thousand children in Minnesota with mental health issues," Executive Director Steve Lepinski said. "I think it's a critical issue.

Ground Broken On $25M Children's Mental Health Center

Those challenges often get in the way of a child's success.

"Most of these kids are very unhappy; most are not doing well in school," he said.

Mental health issues that go untreated impede learning and many kids either drop out of school or end up in the juvenile justice system.

But with help, those children can lead healthy and happy lives.

"Our job is really to help kids be kids," Washburn therapist Liz Vu said.

She has seen the change take place, citing one particular child who came to her with deep problems.

"He actually just graduated from school-based services and is active and involved in sports and having friends," Vu said.

The new facility in north Minneapolis will not only allow more children to be treated, but will help those who train as well.

"Washburn trains a lot of clinicians, undergraduate, graduate and doctorate-level interns and we are going to have enhanced training at the new facility and we'll be able to train more and more in depth training as well," Lepinski said.

The new facility is expected to be complete November 2014.

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