Student Reflection: Prioritizing Mental Health During College
Author: Simone Seliger (Exp. ’19) is a senior psychobiology major and Gender Studies minor. She works as a student intern at the Office of Parent & Family programs, is a director of the Education Committee within Active Minds, and is a research assistant for two studies being conducted within the Psychology Department.
There are many resources available to students while in college. In this article, senior Bruin Simone Seliger reflects on her experiences with prioritizing mental health amidst the stress and excitement of college.
College can be stressful, especially on the quarter system. It sometimes feels as though there are just not enough hours in the day to successfully juggle academics, co-curricular activities, and, ideally, a social life. Here are the tips and tricks I have gathered throughout my (almost) four years at UCLA in order to maintain my mental wellness and do my part in dismantling mental health stigma on campus.
During middle and high school I struggled with mental illness, and was very concerned that my mental health would suffer once I moved to Los Angeles and started college. When I got to UCLA, I immediately made an appointment with a Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) clinician, not wanting to lose the momentum I had gained with my therapy back home. However, I quickly came to realize that that making the time for one-on-one sessions was becoming a burden. This scenario was not unique to me; hundreds of students face similar situations where academic stress causes health and wellness to take a backseat. However, I knew I needed to still prioritize my mental health and wanted to improve how mental health is perceived and discussed on campus. This passion led me to the organization Active Minds and I now get to talk about mental health on a weekly basis with fellow students.
Active Minds is a non-profit dedicated to supporting mental health awareness and education for students. The organization has chapters all across the nation, the largest of which is located right here at UCLA! Joining this club provided me with a like-minded community, as well as a space to decompress and reflect on my own mental wellness. Having personally experienced how easy to is to disregard mental health during school, I am incredibly grateful to have had Active Minds as a weekly reminder for me to prioritize my mental wellness and to establish healthy de-stressing habits (typically known as self-care).
It can be challenging to take care of yourself when it starts to feel like a burden. Luckily, maintaining one’s mental health can take many forms. One incredible resource is, of course, CAPS. They offer one-on-one counseling as well as a variety of group sessions that aim to address topics like academic success, anxiety, and much more. Additionally, joining a club, taking up a new hobby, or even setting aside an hour each week to reflect can work wonders for the symptoms of neglected mental health. Getting involved with a like-minded community has the potential to provide your student with the social support often needed to manage the stress of college. They can begin their search for a club here. Another resource offered at UCLA is the Resilience in Your Student Experience (RISE) Space, which offers Bruins free and accessible programs that promote resilience skills, emphasizing connection and belonging, service, self-efficacy and mastery, and self-reflection.
As with many things, the first step is always the hardest when learning how to prioritize your mental health. Thankfully, UCLA is replete with extraordinary resources to help your student feel both healthy and successful.