‘Everyone deserves to feel well’: UC Berkeley supports student mental health

Photo of the Paws for Mental Health table on Sproul
Gabriel Nuer/Staff
Paws for Mental Health with support dogs on Sproul, one of the numerous campus organizations prioritizing students’ mental health right now.

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War in Ukraine, pandemic stress and midterm season anxieties — these are just a few of the stressors that may be impacting UC Berkeley students’ mental health as they navigate through the complexities of college life.

Campus organizations offer a diverse range of resources to support students’ mental health, ranging from peer support groups to therapy dogs. While many students remain unaware of the resources available, increasing levels of student stress emphasize the necessity of mental health support.

“A lot of people have said that the world around them right now is affecting their ability to do their academic life at the same level they could previously,” said student advocate Kyle Kishimoto.

Paws for Mental Health gives students an opportunity to pet dogs on Sproul Plaza throughout the week. The volunteer dogs, which include corgis and miniature poodles, help students relieve feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, according to its website.

Beyond its tabling sessions on Sproul, Paws for Mental Health hosts fun canine-related events and fundraisers around mental health. The organization also offers a monthly newsletter with information on mental health resources, according to Paws for Mental Health board member Kevin Kim.

“People do tell us that they feel better after petting some of our dogs and hanging out with us,” Kim said. “We’re just here to let people tap out from the stresses of Berkeley.”

The ASUC Mental Health Commission is another organization that hosts mental health and wellness workshops for students. The workshops offer scenario-based discussions on campus mental health culture as well as accessible mental health resources, according to chairperson Amrita Ramanathan.

Ramanathan alleged campus often does a “poor job” in publicizing mental health resources to students. Resources such as meditation apps and various counseling services are available for all UC Berkeley students yet are underutilized due to lack of awareness around their existence.

“Everyone deserves to feel well and access care, no matter what their circumstances may be,” Ramanathan said in an email. “As a community, we need to remember that these resources are here for all of us, no matter where we might be in our personal mental well-being journey.”

In particular, Ramanathan notes that all Berkeley residents — including UC Berkeley students — can have free access to the myStrength app for proven mental health interventions, as well as the Headspace app for meditation and sleep exercises.

Counseling and Psychological Services on campus also offers unlimited, same-day sessions as well as group counseling and Let’s Talk services for walk-in consultations

“To care about mental health is to acknowledge you and everyone else are human and have an innate need to care for through whatever way is best for you,” said ASUC Mental Health Commission vice chair Wesley Lu in an email. “Even the smallest changes can have significant effects for the better.”

Cindy Liu is an academics and administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @_CindyLiu_.