Checking In With Chancellor May: Processing
To the UC Davis Community:
We’ve been through a lot. It will take us a while to feel whole again. It will take time to grieve, process and heal. We are here to help with your concerns about mental health and to take this opportunity in May, Mental Health Awareness Month, to tell you again about all the resources that are available to you. We are here to urge you to take care of yourselves and to extend compassion to all.
And we are here to help with your concerns about physical safety. For those of you who remain uneasy about returning to normal routines, the UC Davis Police Department will keep the extra security personnel it brought in last week, so that they are a presence on campus through the end of the academic year. Safe Rides will continue to operate with extended hours until at least the end of spring quarter, and additional temporary lighting will remain in place.
Also take note of safety measures previously put in place, like the 21 “blue light” emergency call boxes throughout the campus, including the Arboretum. The Police Department offers tips for personal safety — please follow them. If you have not already done so, I encourage all members of the campus community with ucdavis.edu email addresses to review and update your contact information for Aggie Alert and WarnMe messages. (Parents and others can sign up for text alerts.) Finally, if you are concerned about a distressed or distressing student, you can make a referral for support through the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs.
Dealing with recent events
UC Davis offers numerous resources and services to help you process and deal with the complex emotional and psychological impacts you may be experiencing. This includes individual or group counseling. Students can access many different resources at Aggie Mental Health, while employees should contact the Academic and Staff Assistance Program, or ASAP. Mutual aid from our sister campuses enables us to accommodate a higher volume of requests for counseling services. You’ll find additional resources farther down in this message.
Aggie Mental Health is a comprehensive resource for students, featuring self-care resources, on-campus individual and group counseling services, workshops, trainings and more. It relies on student Aggie Mental Health Ambassadors to raise awareness about mental health, promote available campus resources, encourage mentally healthy behaviors and strengthen the community overall. The goal is to enhance the well-being and quality of life for all community members by decreasing isolation and loneliness. Here’s how Ambassador Jason Tin, who is pursuing a master’s degree in public health, describes it: “Mental well-being isn’t just about feeling mentally healthy enough to carry on with our day; mental well-being is about having the capacity to reach our fullest potential while being able to support others in our community reach their fullest potential as well.”
Watch this video featuring Abi Ibarra-Iglesias, Aggie Mental Health Ambassador, to learn more about the program.
A campus priority
The campus has prioritized mental health systems and we’ve made significant progress in the past five years, based on recommendations from our Mental Health Care Task Force. We provided resources to hire an additional 10 counselors or therapists and three additional psychiatrists on campus, for students, and increased access to care through telehealth services. Student Health and Counseling Services, or SCHS, recently updated its online scheduling system, Health-e-Messaging, to help students identify the type of counseling service they need. Students can also view more available appointments in their search, which include same-day and next-day options. We doubled the staff of our nonclinical case managers at the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs to obtain appropriate and timely care and resources and otherwise support students with mental health conditions. We also launched the Crisis Text Line. SCHS and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing are conducting a pilot program to increase access to psychiatric services by bringing psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners to the Student Health and Wellness Center.
Paul Kim, director of counseling services, offers this perspective: “I would encourage us to think about mental health in a similar way to how we think about physical health. To maintain physical health, we engage in healthy behaviors and sometimes we benefit from medical care. Mental health is similar. To maintain our mental health, we engage in behaviors that support our mental health and sometimes it is helpful to receive mental health care, including speaking to a counselor.”
Watch my recent video discussion with Paul about mental health support and resources on campus.
- Personalized support — Mental health care at UC Davis considers individual circumstances and supports the intersectionality of identities. Look to the SCHS website to find well-being resources designed specifically for various communities of students, faculty and staff: underrepresented, LGBTQIA+, womxn, veteran and international, for example.
- Drop-in support for staff and faculty — ASAP is offering free, virtual drop-in group support spaces to process emotional and psychological impact related to recent events. Sessions are facilitated by licensed mental health counselors and are available through May 19. Visit the ASAP website to learn more.
- Crisis Text Line for UC Davis students — This free, immediate and confidential texting service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Students in crisis may simply text “RELATE” to 741741 from anywhere in the country to text with a trained volunteer crisis counselor.
- Suicide prevention — UC Davis offers free suicide prevention training online to all faculty, staff and students. This self-paced training, called Question, Persuade and Refer, is designed to teach the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to respond. Visit the Aggie Mental Health website for instruction on how to take the training.
- Wellness video series — Sara Aghamohammadi, chief wellness officer at UC Davis Health, launched a new video series titled “Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds.” Learn more and watch the first episode.
You’re not alone
Many of us may find it difficult to ask for help. More than ever, it’s important that we lean into support and focus on taking care of ourselves and one another. Please know that you are not alone, that the Aggie family is vast and close-knit. It’s always easier to get through difficult days, together.
Gary S. May