United for Health at Berkeley hosts ‘chill’ acupuncture clinic

photo of asuc acupuncture clinic
Anthony Angel Pérez/Senior Staff
Students and staff were able to attend a five-day free acupuncture clinic coordinated by United for Health at Berkeley.

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United for Health at Berkeley, or UFH, hosted a free five-day acupuncture clinic on campus for student and staff mental health and stress relief last week.

Soft melodic music echoed in the background as the students sat at desks in silence. Some had their eyes closed, while others scrolled on their phones. One by one, they went up to a chair at the front of the room to receive acupuncture needles in their ears, their forehead and the top of their head.

“Our students and staff created an opportunity to effectively address the increasing rate of stress, depression, trauma, and anxiety caused by the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the upcoming finals for this semester,” said UFH executive director Hope McDonnell in an email.

McDonnell said UFH at Berkeley’s mission is to provide accessible health care through partnerships with the ASUC Mental Health Commission, the Tang Center and the larger Bay Area.

According to McDonnell, the acupuncture ear treatment can change brain chemistry by producing dopamine, serotonin and endorphins to induce relaxation and balance.

Students attending the clinic this week had varying experiences and results with the acupuncture treatment.

“I was really scared, because I was like, woah, you’re going to put a needle in my forehead,” said Yanetzi Rodriguez, an intern at UFH. “Overall, it did help me feel a little more relaxed after.”

Rodriguez noted that the group setting helped put her more at ease during the treatment. She encouraged people to bring their friends throughout the week for “moral support.”

Additionally, Rodriguez said the clinic is a great way for people to experience alternative medicine and see if it is something they want to pursue on their own or at the clinic again. One such individual was campus sophomore Marie Rodriguez-Takada.

“It was really nice, really chill,” Rodriguez-Takada said. “I was really looking forward to it, because I’ve been wanting to try acupuncture for the longest time.”

The turnout at the clinic this week started off slow, but grew to be fifty students within two hours Friday, according to McDonnell.

Wesley Lu, chair of the ASUC Mental Health Commission, said the commission was very appreciative of the clinic’s work on campus. He alleged that the university does not offer a full range of support for student health and well-being.

“All students who came to the clinic signed a petition, which urged the ASUC, the Wellness Fund and other sources to make United for Health at Berkeley’s services ongoing,” McDonnell noted.

“Ideally, we want it to run at least towards the end of the semester during dead week or finals week,” Rodriguez said. “That’s one of the things we’re working towards.”

Contact Zoe Kessler at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @ZoeKessler14.