A waitlist for mental health

Boynton looks to increase its Mental Health Clinic capacity by 15%.

by Branden Largent

The University of Minnesota’s Boynton Health Service Mental Health Clinic  continues to face a high demand of students seeking appointments, but it’s trying to adapt and increase capacity by as much as 15 percent this semester.

Boynton has increased staff hours and hired new therapists in the past few years to meet student needs, but appointments have once again backed up, said Steve Hermann, the clinic’s director.

Wait times can vary, with some students waiting up to a month for an appointment, he said.

Boynton put in a request to hire another therapist, which has to get approval from Provost Karen Hanson, said Gary Christenson, Boynton’s chief medical

“We’re working on it [and] trying to get the staff increases to meet the demand,” Christenson said.

He said the clinic has also recently hired staff in medication management positions because “the needs are in both areas.”

Boynton hired another therapist this semester who will spend some time at the University clinic but will mostly be working out of Minneapolis Community and Technical College, where Boynton has a satellite clinic, Christenson said.

With the new full-time employee hires, as well as obtaining additional space in the Aurora Center in November, Hermann said the clinic could see a 15 percent increase in capacity within the semester.

Hermann said Boynton recommends that students waiting a long time for appointments also call University Counseling and Consulting Services.

Students who make appointments through UCCS can usually speak to a counselor within a week or two, said Sarra Beckham-Chasnoff, a senior psychologist at UCCS.

Beckham-Chasnoff said UCCS was able to avoid a waitlist last year after they hired new staff and added more first-time appointments so students seeking first-time appointments could get in faster.

“Historically, fall tends to be our busiest time,” said Beckham-Chasnoff, who added that UCCS has also increased its number of available appointments from last year.

Boynton’s Mental Health Clinic is also in the midst of long-term changes, like re-evaluating the therapy organization and expanding the clinic to the St. Paul campus by 2013, Hermann said.

“It’s something that’s happening all around the country, that college mental health services are seeing increased demand,” Hermann said.

A 2011 qualitative study of 10 campus mental health clinics throughout the country showed a collective increased demand for mental health services, according to SAGE journals.

“We do want people to understand that it is a priority at Boynton that we make some of these changes to address access issues for students seeking mental health care,” Hermann said.