University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus a national leader in student health

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When it comes to looking out for its students, the University of Minnesota is practically in the Ivy League.

Letting students have pet therapy animals to relieve stress is just one the reasons the U has been recognized with the likes of Cornell University as having one of the country's "healthiest campuses."

Nonprofit Active Minds on Tuesday announced its 2015 Healthy Campus Award, which recognizes colleges and universities that develop innovative ways to provide for their students' physical and mental well-being – and inspire others to do likewise.

The five recipients are the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Cornell University, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, University of Texas, Austin and Western Washington University, according to a press release.

The nonprofit's award is described as a "new annual recognition."

Active Minds says the U of M was judged using eight criteria, including giving students a voice in matters of physical and mental health on campus, and "creating equal opportunities" for the wellbeing of all students.

Case in point: one of the innovations the group applauded was the addition of transgender services to the school's Student Health Benefit program, and other "ongoing work for inclusivity."

The university also got high marks for providing a number of other resources, including a 24-hour campus crisis line as well as a 24-hour "text counseling service" for freshmen.

And, of course, Pet Away Worry and Stress (PAWS), which allows students to interact with dogs, cats, rabbits and even a chicken named Woodstock every Wednesday for free.

“The University of Minnesota’s efforts are a model for campuses nationwide and demonstrate what is possible when students, staff, faculty and administrators from across an entire university work together so that every student has the opportunity to thrive,” said Active Minds VP of Student Health and Wellness Sara Abelson.

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