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Op-ed: Stressors of new environment make mental health resources important for new Bruins

(Daily Bruin file photo)

By Corry Presser, Jennifer Gonzalez, Cathie Crossan, Lauren Vincent, and Shahan Mcgehee

Oct. 1, 2019 10:15 p.m.

This post was updated Oct. 2 at 9:23 a.m.

With the end of week zero comes the first week of UCLA for new Bruins.

These students are entering a completely new stage of life, one where they will create lifelong friendships, have the best memories and experiences and complete the finest education.

Unfortunately, this era does not always come without some lows. Maintaining a healthy mental state in college can be a challenge – but it’s not uncommon to face these issues. Everyone else in a massive lecture hall at 8 a.m. is battling their own stressors, despite how put-together they seem at such an early hour.

For this reason, regular mental health check-ins are increasingly important within the college community – on an individual level and beyond. And while it is important for Bruins to enjoy their first quarter, keeping mental health in mind is never a bad idea.

Commencing study at a university is a major life transition, and it is a perfectly common struggle in a variety of ways. According to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health’s 2018 annual report, 54.4% of respondents reported attending counseling for mental health concerns.

In short – seeking help and resources is not just common, it’s the norm.

These issues have risen dramatically on college campuses in the last few years. The CCMH found that in the period from 2010 to 2018, the number of students seeking counseling for mental health issues more than doubled. Its report showed that anxiety and depression are listed by students as their top mental health concerns, and that the rates for both have been rising.

This means that most students express some form of concern regarding their mental health. And while these concerns may sometimes be stigmatized, they are not uncommon.

It is also common for students to develop mental health issues during the first year of university. Many students experience high levels of depression and anxiety, and these numbers continue to increase. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental health can change over time, but having poor mental health does not always equate to having a mental illness.

UCLA is a big school, which does not always make it easy to find resources for those who are experiencing either poor mental health or serious mental illness.

But there are resources available.

One example of these resources is UCLA’s Counseling and Psychological Services. According to its website, CAPS is on campus in order to help students with consultations, short-term treatment and psychiatric services. UCLA also recommends Screening and Treatment for Anxiety and Depression as a resource for screening depression and anxiety symptoms. With STAND, students are able to create an account and take a survey. Once a student does this, they can enroll in mood tracking or treatment which can help students maintain good mental health.

Then again, CAPS is not the only option available on campus – in fact, the CAPS website lists many other viable options and services at UCLA, including the Behavioral Wellness Center, the LGBTQ Campus Resource Center and the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.

Putting personal well-being on hold is never an option. And while CAPS might be able to provide a certain level of care, it often lacks the resources to help students with long-term or more specific needs. That being said, it is a viable option to seek help through these other groups, and students should not feel deterred from doing so while they wait in line for CAPS services.

The moral of the story is this: College has a lot of moving pieces to juggle. It is a huge change – classes are harder, you are on your own, you are in a completely foreign environment. Your friends are moving on with their lives from high school. Your parents might be far away.

But that does not necessarily mean students do not have the tools to survive their first quarters as Bruins.

UCLA is a top research institution, with a plethora of resources meant to support students that are there to be taken advantage of.

Don’t be afraid to search for the right fit – because a Bruin never puts their well-being on hold.

Presser is a fourth-year gender studies student. Vincent is a fourth-year art student. McGehee is a fourth-year student. Gonzalez is a fourth-year sociology student. Crossan is a fourth-year communication student.

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