Improving mental health resources at UCSD

Improving mental health resources at UCSD

7 have signed. Let’s get to 10!
Petition to
UCSD students and

Why this petition matters

Started by Sarah Shen

When was the last time you took an actual “mental health break”? Taking the time to address our own mental health in an academically rigorous setting like UCSD can be pretty challenging, especially when settings like UCSD demand we use our time productively. It’s so easy to throw around terms like “self-care” or “mental health days” but why is it so difficult to follow through with them? Are the outlets UCSD provides to take these “breaks” adequate? We want to investigate whether the existing mental health services on campus are adequately addressing the needs of the students, and to identify what could be done to better meet them.   

The goal of this petition is to ultimately advocate for more accessible care on campus, and to create more self-sustainable community practices that empower the community. We were motivated to make mental health on campus the focus for this petition because as students ourselves, we want guidance from our peers and experts without fear of being judged or evaluated from a clinical perspective. We also see the need for guidance in adjusting to the changes brought about by the pandemic. And of course, we want to take a step towards destigmatizing mental health on campus.

We hope to bring this petition to the attention of higher power on campus, and eventually implement our proposal.

Based on our survey results and interview responses, the main problems that UCSD students pointed out were the poor quality of mental health services that are currently being offered on campus, namely CAPS (Counselling and Psychological Services), as well as the fact that seeking mental help feels stigmatized, resulting in students not feeling comfortable to actively look for help. 

When asked about what changes they would like to see for addressing mental health issues, the solutions they suggested can be split mainly into two categories: improving the service that CAPS provides and tackling the root causes that create mental stress among the student body. While our group understands that improving the quality of CAPS is important, we believe that it should only serve as an emergency service. At the end of the day, we see CAPS as a band-aid solution because it only focuses on treating students after they struggle with some form of mental illness. It does not aim to eliminate the root causes that create mental health problems. Therefore, our group believes that more needs to be done. These include focusing more on preventative forms of care and creating a more mental-health friendly environment. 

Intervention: 3-pronged approach

1] Social Approach: For our social approach, we are proposing the implementation of a peer mentorship program. The main goal behind this is to create a more mental health friendly environment and eliminate stressors that exacerbate mental health. New students will be paired with a peer mentor whose role will be to familiarize students with campus resources and direct them to specific resources when the need arises. Some examples of on resources mentors will be trained to direct their mentees to are academic advisory, resource centers, tutoring, residential assistants, deans, career centers, HDH, etc. Using these resources can reduce the future stress students may face, but oftentimes the process of finding such resources is a cause of stress. Thus, the mentors will eliminate that stressful process. Such mentors will also be of a similar major, have similar interests, and will have faced similar challenges in life in order to be able to give their mentees useful advice and make the mentees more comfortable talking about their struggles, leading to a mental health friendly environment. They will be available to discuss everyday issues and topics that are bothering their mentees and direct their mentees to their mental health advisor when they are not equipped to provide immediate services the mentee needs.

2] Personalized Approach: For our personalized approach, we are proposing a mental health advisory system which will utilize department-specific psychologists. More specifically, these psychologists will be found in each college for each major, and will be designated to each student. This will help remedy impersonalized care that UCSD students currently receive as the mental health advisors will be aware of the specific academic struggles students face. From day one, students will be made aware of and offered help, eliminating the discouraging, complicated, and extensive process that seeking help currently requires. In addition to being able to offer immediate care for non-emergency, everyday issues, these mental health advisors will be able to advocate for their students in various ways. Mental health advisors will meet with specific professors (ie. Mental health advisors for human biology majors will meet with professors for the major courses human biology majors take) and discuss common stressors found from certain classes and try to rework certain aspects of the course to address the needs of students. Mental health advisors will also be the bridge between the student and the OSD office, helping students navigate the challenging process of getting the accommodations they need. 

3] Community Approach: building a community that de-stigmatizes and values mental health, that receives UCSD funding and support

- To actively support and equip student-run organizations that work to improve the mental health of campus i.e. more advertisement, awareness, and promotion
- To provide funding for mental health events and safe spaces where students can interact, de-stress, and relate with each other
- To work towards de-stigmatizing mental health, by hosting awareness and educational events that are funded by UCSD, and extending all resources available on campus
- To foster a sense of community and unity in regards to shared experiences with mental health as students from diverse backgrounds and circumstances

7 have signed. Let’s get to 10!