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BEFORE members of the University of Washington Class of 2013 departed with their baccalaureate degrees, they left behind a substantial senior class gift.

Graduates donated $50,000, a record amount for a senior gift, to mental-health services on the Seattle campus.

Mindful of their own stresses, the seniors concluded a worthy recipient was the Student Counseling Center, which has served more than 1,400 students in this academic year.

The center provides individual, couple and group counseling sessions. All services are free to enrolled students.

Since 2011, the center has seen a 30-percent increase in demand for urgent walk-in appointments, director Ellen Taylor said. While students never are turned away, some have had to wait more than two weeks for an appointment. During the center’s busiest days typically during testing season, counselors have seen more than 57 patients per day.

The gift will be used to coordinate education and awareness campaigns
and create videos about stress-management, test anxiety and more. Taylor hopes these resources will help students learn to take care of themselves between appointments.

According to a national survey of more than 28,000 university students by the American College Health Association, half the students reported feeling overwhelming anxiety, while nearly 30 percent reported experiencing depression.

This gift not only supports the university community, but also demonstrates confidence that future students will be able to get mental-health counseling when they need it.

Donations to the 2013 Senior Class Gift fund are open indefinitely and can be made through the UW Foundation at