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'U Of M' Struggling To Keep Up With Mental Health Cases

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- New research shows one in four students at the University of Minnesota is diagnosed with a form of mental illness every year. There are so many cases, in fact, the University's mental health services is struggling to with demand.

College is many things: A chance at a bright future, the first taste of independence and, if nothing else, a time a drastic change.

A recent survey of students by the University's Boynton Health Service shows the top two mental health issues they face are depression and anxiety.

"We can have students with panic attacks, obsessions, compulsions," said Boynton's Chief Medical Officer Gary Christienson.

Boynton provides therapists and psychiatrists for students, but with the number of students seeking help growing at a rate of 5 percent a year, it can take three to five weeks to get in. There's even a waiting list for some services.

Christienson says the plan is to increase staff and resources by 15 percent on the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, and they've already started.

"We've just acquired space over in Cauffy Hall and we're hoping to add probably five new therapists, psychiatrists, over there," said Christienson.

At the same time, the University is taking a unique approach to make sure more students know about the mental health services available: posters inside bathrooms.

Christienson says while there is a wait for some services, students in crisis should go to Boynton Health Service for a walk-in appointment.

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