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UC San Diego Embraces Student Wellness, Raises Awareness of Mental Health

For the past five years, UC San Diego students and staff have participated in the annual “Out of the Darkness Walk,” organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This year, UC San Diego had the largest turn-out for the parade than ever before.

The University of California, San Diego has a message for its students: your emotional wellness is a top priority. The campus offers a variety of resources to help students achieve a healthy and balanced lifestyle, including UC San Diego’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). The goal of CAPS is to support and educate students and to offer a welcoming and confidential space for learning about and addressing mental health issues.

According to CAPS psychologist, Jerry Phelps, CAPS seeks to address both the commonality of mental illness and raise awareness on the importance of seeking help. “We all get the blues from time to time,” Phelps said. “But if your symptoms last for more than two weeks, it’s important to get help.”

Phelps added, “Depression is the most common mental health problem and impacts 19 million Americans every year––the good news is that depression is very treatable.”

CAPS offers confidential, short-term counseling, psychiatric services and referrals. Appointments are free for registered students, whether they are covered by the UC Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP) or not.

Information on symptoms of depression and how UC San Diego Counseling and Psychological Services can help:

Signs and Symptoms of Depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide

About Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at UC San Diego:

  • CAPS offers psychological counseling for individuals, couples, groups and families for registered undergraduate and graduate students. Assistance is also provided to those who are concerned about a fellow student or friend.
  • CAPS provides training and consultation to staff and faculty about helping students in distress.
  • Appointments are confidential and can be made by calling 858.534.3755

Recently, CAPS worked in coordination with other University of California campuses to increase participation during this year’s National Depression Awareness Month activities, which took place during the month of October.

Throughout the month, CAPS, working in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry and student wellness organizations, reached out to the campus community to provide insight about the symptoms of depression and what students can do to get help.

For the past five years, UC San Diego students and staff have participated in the annual “Out of the Darkness Walk,” organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This year, UC San Diego had the largest turn-out for the parade than ever before.

“Student involvement in our walk was unprecedented,” said Phelps. “Through outreach efforts and help from our partners on campus, we were able to double student participation in the walk compared last year.”

The walk, which took place on Oct. 20th at the Embarcadero Marina Park North, provided an opportunity for participants to come together and promote suicide prevention. This year’s theme was “What do you hope for?” a call to action and an appeal for awareness. UC San Diego CAPS Wellness Peer Educators and members of the student organizations, Active Minds and Psi Chi, carried the banner to lead the walk.

Participants also were given the chance to memorialize those who had been lost to suicide by attaching a photo to the Community Memory Tree and sharing information about their loved ones. UC San Diego Wellness peer educator, Ian Howard, and his brother, Stefan, who lost their father to suicide in 2003, were among those who were willing to share their story with others. “We were able to grieve publicly to show others the pain experienced by survivors of suicide and the importance of prevention,” said Howard.

In addition to the walk, CAPS and the Department of Psychiatry engaged students by tabling on Library Walk throughout the month of October. Students also got the opportunity to participate in the National Depression Screening Day event on Oct. 25, also held on Library Walk, and transfer students had the chance to attend a stress management workshop at the Village on Oct. 29.

For more information, visit the CAPS website at caps.ucsd.edu.