Mpls. to be home to new children's mental health center

5:04 AM, Aug 14, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - A new children's outpatient mental health center, being built in Minneapolis, is expected to help serve a growing need for children's mental health services.

Experts say one in five children experience mental health challenges, but only 20 percent of them receive professional help.

Washburn Center for Children is building a new $24.5 million state-of-the-art mental health facility at Glenwood and Dupont Avenues. The 55,000 square foot facility will be twice the size of Washburn's current building on Nicollet Avenue.

Under a big tent on the new building site, Washburn and its supporters held a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday. 

Children took center stage with an appearance by North Minneapolis' rap group, Da Rich Kidzz.  Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, as well as other politicians, addressed the crowd.

Washburn's executive director, Steve Lepinski, said he is, "Very excited.  It's a huge thing for Washburn, but it's really a reflection, I think, of the community coming together and saying, 'Children's mental health is important.'"

Lepinski said Washburn's facility on Nicollet Avenue, an old converted office building, is no longer enough.

He said Washburn staff currently serves 2,700 children and their families each year, which is double the numbers from six years ago.

The Washburn Center for Children helps with behavioral problems, anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder, depression, learning difficulties and they're known as a leader in treating trauma which is being diagnosed more often.

"Increasingly we see children who have experienced trauma in their life, some very significant trauma, and these children are actually being diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorders. And we have a variety of treatments shown be to very effective in treating child trauma," Lepinski said.

Twin Cities residents can simply call for an appointment.

Helen Hunter said Washburn has helped one of her children.

"I started looking for answers and Washburn worked in my child's school so they were the first ones to start with answers and since then our relationship is great," she said.

Getting mental health care for children has many challenges. Lepinski said there are stigma and also a lack of adequate reimbursement for providers. But he said space will no longer be an issue. 

The new facility will include natural light in every room, elements of nature throughout the building and it will meet LEED standards, meaning it's environmentally friendly.

It will also have a training institute for clinicians, which is expected to set Washburn apart from other such facilities in the region.

"We will deepen and broaden the training we do for our staff and interns that train here and professionals that work with children in the community," Lepinski said.

It will take 14 months to build the new Washburn Center for Children. It will open in the fall of 2014.

To contact Washburn Center for Children call 612-871-1754.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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