Mental health access at U

by Ed Ehlinger

Nowhere is access to mental health services more important than on college campuses. In her Feb. 25 article, âÄúGetting mental health treatment at the U no easy task,âÄù Tara Bannow does an excellent job of highlighting this issue. The University of Minnesota has responded to that need by maintaining both the University Counseling and Consulting Service and the Boynton Mental Health Clinic. That is also why Boynton has implemented year-round fees, instituted a brief therapy model and enhanced mental health services in its primary care clinics. These efforts have significantly increased the number of mental health appointments. Yet, there are times, especially toward the end of the semester, when demand exceeds immediately available appointments. That is why Boynton always has an urgent counselor available and UCCS offers walk-in services. While Bannow focuses on access issues on our campus, the issues of access and cost for mental health services are problems throughout our community. Lack of mental health providers, poor insurance reimbursement rates and high demand for services have stressed all mental health providers, including Boynton. It was these pressures which prompted the Student Services Fees Committee in the early 1990s to require a $10 co-pay for mental health services at Boynton. Although I am generally not supportive of co-pays, this fee does help support the cost of providing care at Boynton. On our campus where 27 percent of students report having been diagnosed with a mental health condition in their lifetime, mental health care is an essential component of the health care needs of students. Boynton and the University are working hard to improve access to these services. I appreciate BannowâÄôs article because it helps raise awareness of the fact that access and cost for mental health services are significant community issues that need the kind of discussion Bannow has begun. Ed Ehlinger Boynton Health Service director