News Release

Student mental health remains a priority for U of M

What: University of Minnesota Board of Regents meeting
When: Thursday, February 9 and Friday, February 10, 2017
Where: Sixth floor, McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak St. S.E., Minneapolis

All students seeking mental health services on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus are being promptly evaluated, and most are receiving on-campus care, thanks to increased resources for clinical care.

Student demand for mental health care remains high. At its meeting next week, the University’s Board of Regents will discuss these recent trends, ongoing efforts to address them and plans for more mental health care service space on campus.

At Boynton Health, a comprehensive multi-disciplinary clinic serving the Twin Cities campus community, nearly 1,500 new student requests for mental health care in the 2016 fall semester represented a 23 percent increase compared to fall 2015. Overall, Boynton saw a 27 percent increase in visits in fall 2016 over a year prior, and it projects it will manage 25,000 mental health appointments in the 2016-17 academic year. Student Counseling Services (SCS) also saw demand increase last semester, including 22 percent more crisis cases (total of 302) and a small uptick in overall sessions conducted (more than 3,400 total). These trends are consistent with what colleges and universities are reporting nationally.

New investments of nearly $300,000 for fiscal year 2017 increased staffing levels at Boynton and SCS, allowing students more access to mental health services. Combined, nearly 60 professionals now provide mental health care services on the Twin Cities campus. President Eric Kaler and Executive Vice President and Provost Karen Hanson committed a total of $200,000 from discretionary office budgets in each of the next two years, adding to nearly $100,000 in new funds from student service fees.

“Student mental health is a top public health issue for the University system,” said Kaler. “I am pleased to see that increased resources are making a difference for our students, who deserve credit for their strong advocacy on this critical topic. We will keep monitoring and assessing our efforts moving forward, with a goal of addressing student needs in a comprehensive way.”

Boynton Health’s providers assess patients’ needs in 20-30 minute consultations, and refer them to necessary resources, with 80 percent receiving care on campus. Unlike last school year, Boynton Health had no therapy waitlist in fall 2016, as patients were able to start therapy within two weeks. SCS also assesses all students promptly. SCS started a short waitlist later into the semester than previous years and arranged for all clients to receive therapy within 2-3 weeks, a significant improvement from fall 2015.

Additionally, the new Office for Student Affairs Care Manager, hired in March 2016, is now assisting students with a wide variety of issues or crisis situations. Since then, more than 80 cases received attention.

More than 30 percent of students on each U of M campus report a mental health diagnosis in their lifetime — with anxiety and depression being most common. Additionally, about 35 percent report an inability to manage stress within the past 12 months. These issues are barriers to success in and out of the classroom. Each campus continues to address their respective needs.

Five-year enrollment plan update
The University continues to attract the best and brightest students from across Minnesota and continues to steadily improve graduation rates. In an annual update on enrollment management principles, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster will outline progress in a number of areas, including:

  • Welcoming 5,880 incoming undergraduate students, the most diverse in University history, and largest entering first year class since 1970 through a plan for modest growth over five years;
  • Maintaining affordability and access for Minnesota students by stabilizing or reducing indebtedness at the time of graduation.
  • Retaining and graduating more students than ever before. Four-year graduation rates exceed the goal of 65 percent while retention rates remain well above 90 percent for all students and students of color; and
  • Meeting the needs of Minnesota’s workforce by awarding more than 3,300 STEM degrees, an increase of nearly 200 (6 percent) year over year, with a goal of 3,600 by 2020-21.

Regents will continue to receive regular updates on implementation of this plan.

The Board will also:
Receive an overview of Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) work. The presentation will cover primary functions; staffing and funding; student Title IX investigations; employee discrimination, nepotism and retaliation investigations; and placement within the University’s structure.
Receive an update on the Human Participant Research Protection Implementation Plan, which was completed in December 2016. All 63 recommendations from the outside panel report are in place and have been implemented within the 18-month timeline. A final report was submitted to the Legislature last month.
Discuss Academic Health Center facilities, including plans for a series of renovations to move programs out of the Masonic Memorial Building and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Cancer Research Building. These actions, in line with the Board of Regents’ goal to reduce the amount of poor and critical square footage, are being considered as part of the planning for a new Health Sciences Education Center, which is included in the University’s current State capital request.
Participate in a work session about the future University of Minnesota Health (M Health) partnership. The Board will discuss whether to renew, terminate or modify the MHealth agreement signed in 2013. This agreement creates greater integration between the U of M Medical Center and University Minnesota Physicians, and includes a branding agreement for M Health. Regents will discuss both successes under the current structure and management’s assessment of opportunities for improvement.
Hear from Gopher Athletics Director Mark Coyle about efforts to develop student-athletes for success academically, athletically and socially.
Consider the appointment of Matt Kramer as the vice president for University and Government Relations and officially introduce new U of M Morris Chancellor Michelle Behr and Dean of Graduate Education Scott Lanyon.

Committee meetings begin at 8 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 9. On Friday, Feb. 10, the full Board meeting begins at 8:45 a.m.

For more information, including meeting times and locations, go to the Regents website.






Media Contacts

Main Line

University Public Relations
(612) 624-5551