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Student panelists discuss needed support for international students

Student panelists at an event Monday said international students are struggling with stress and anxiety due to the lack of scholarship and tutoring opportunities on campus. (Grace Zhu/Daily Bruin)

By Conor O'Brien

Nov. 7, 2017 1:04 a.m.

This post was updated Nov. 9 at 12:28 p.m.

Student panelists said at a Monday event they think international students at UCLA need more support from the university because they feel stressed and anxious while transitioning to studying in the U.S.

Active Minds UCLA and the Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars hosted “Bruin Resilience: Wellness Social for International Students” at Bradley Hall to talk about mental health issues international students face and to inform students about related resources on campus, such as UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services.

Active Minds educates students about the stigma surrounding mental health and the Dashew Center provides programs and support for international students at UCLA.

The event featured student speakers who talked about the challenges of studying in a foreign environment and dealing with homesickness and academic stress.

Jack Lam, one of the moderators at the event, said he thinks many international students become depressed while adapting to a new environment that is culturally different from their own.

Lam, a fourth-year communications student and an international student from Malaysia, said many international students struggle to seek help with mental health issues because of cultural stigma and language barriers.

“Within the international community there are greater stigmas of reaching out and asking for help. … From a lot of our cultures we are a lot more reserved, a lot more quiet,” Lam said.

He added many international students also face financial stress because they pay higher tuition and often lack access to scholarship and grant opportunities that are reserved for domestic students.

Lam said international students struggling with mental health can use resources on campus such as the Guidance, Resilience, Integrity and Transformation Peer Coaching programs, a peer-to-peer program where students receive individualized support to improve their mental well-being and academic success.

Jimmy Lin, one of the panelists at the event, said he thinks international students are often not included in campus discussions that aim to increase support for underrepresented communities.

Lin, a fourth-year communications student from Taiwan, added that he thinks UCLA promotes itself as a diverse community but does not provide enough opportunities for international students.

He added international students are not eligible for certain programs, such as the Academic Advancement Program, which supports underrepresented students with academic resources such as peer learning, mentoring and scholarships.

“AAP for example, on the application it mentions that international students cannot apply because it is federally funded,” he said. “Most people do not realize the extra effort most international students have to put into being successful students at UCLA, particularly with regards to writing essays when English is not their first language.”

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