U of M Sees Big Increase in Students Seeking Help For Mental Health Issues

Updated: 12/20/2013 6:22 PM
Created: 12/20/2013 3:56 PM
By: Josh Rosenthal

University of Minnesota students can finally exhale.

"Not stressed because I finished finals on Tuesday," said Joey Krenz.

Added Louis Fine, "pretty relieved now that finals are done."

Of course the rest of the year is a different story.

Kiley Kost simply said, "very stressed," and stress correlates with depression and anxiety, mental health issues that college campuses across the state are dealing with in startling numbers.

"It's happening here, it's happening all across the country," explained Boynton Mental Health Clinic Director Steve Hermann. In the 2013 College Health Survey Report, more than 36 percent of students statewide reported being diagnosed with at least one mental health condition. At the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, Hermann says most years they see a four or five percent increase in students seeking help. Last year they saw a nine percent increase, and this semester they saw a 25 percent increase.

"Mental health issues have become kind of the number one public health issue on college campuses," he said.

Answering why isn't easy. In addition to more stress, Hermann thinks there's less of a stigma surrounding mental health than there used to be, and he also points out that Boynton started offering free counseling this year.

"It's really important to encourage students who need help to come and get it," he said, "and we've tried to lower the barriers for that."

So it's very much a problem without an easy answer, but Hermann says the more we talk about it, the better off we'll be. Judging by students we talked to on campus -- so far, so good.

"I think it's great if people seek out help," Kost said. "There's nothing to be ashamed about. I wish people would talk about it more."

If you'd like to learn more about mental health or find out more about services that might be available to you, Hermann says two good places to start are the University of Minnesota's mental health website and the National Institute of Mental Health website.

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