Welcome to the official blog of UCSC Counseling and Psychological Services!

We are the UCSC community’s resource for counseling, wellness, and mental health concerns. Follow us here to learn more about upcoming events, health and wellness topics, our staff, and updates from the counseling center.

The CAPS blog is written and managed by the CAPS Peer Educator Program, with guest posts by staff and students. Our amazing Blog Coordinators for the 2015-16 year are Peer Educators Ila Rutten and Katherine Chadbourne!

Click the about tab to learn more about CAPS, and what we can do for you!

CAPS STUDENT HERO: Katherine Chadbourne

Hello! We hope that everyone is looking forward to their much-deserved break this week. This week we are proud to introduce the illustrious Katherine Chadbourne: she is a returning member to the CAPS Peer Educator Program. Thanks for all you do, Katherine!

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What do you do regularly to relieve stress

The first thing I usually do when I’m stressed is make a list of everything I have to do, and check things off as I go. It really makes everything feel manageable when I’m able to see what I’ve done and what I have left to do. I’ll also listen to music and bake something to take a break from whatever’s stressing me out, that way I can go back in with a clear head.

Tell us about something you’re passionate about outside of school (e.g., clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

I’m really passionate about volunteering. I volunteer in an elementary school and I just love that I’m able to interact with children and help them learn. They’ve impacted me in such a positive way, and I love seeing their smiling faces when I walk in the classroom, and their expression when they finally understand a math problem we’ve been working on is the best! I also love travelling- I lived in Europe for a few years when I was younger and I studied abroad last year, and I took every opportunity I had to explore somewhere new. It’s so important to me to learn about and experience different cultures, and I’m always daydreaming about and planning trips I want to take in the future. I’m also passionate about my family, friends, cooking, and hiking.

If you could share one thing that you’d like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

I want my fellow students to know that CAPS has so many amazing resources that are available to help students with anything, whether they just want to talk with someone, or are struggling with a bigger issue. It’s free and confidential, and going to CAPS doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you! CAPS is here for us, so take advantage of the services!

Katherine Chadbourne is a fourth year Intensive Psychology major affiliated with College 

CAPS Student Hero: Melissa Newton

FullSizeRenderHi everyone! Thanks for tuning in to the blog. We’d like to introduce Melissa Newton, one of our Peer Educators, who work to reduce stigma and reach out to students. Melissa’s been working hard as a Peer Educator, and recently helped facilitate one of our Stress Less Workshops. Thank you for all you do, Melissa!

What do you do regularly to relieve stress? 

To relieve stress, I regularly take breaks and spend time with friends and roommates. I also do yoga to help reduce physical stress along with the emotional stress. I have found that laughing helps me more than almost anything, so taking the time to laugh (with friends and family, watching a comedy, or on Tumblr) is extremely important to me.

Tell us about something you’re passionate about outside of school (e.g., clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

This year I am excited and passionate to be president of Psi Chi, which is UCSC’s Psychology Honor Society on campus. We foster students’ academic achievement, relationships with faculty, and develop a community of students passionate about psychology. Another passion of mine is soap making. Making soap from scratch is incredibly fun. I have perfected a recipe and I add colors, scents, and herbs to the soap to make it even more lively. I’m also obsessed with dinosaurs and plants.

If you could share one thing that you’d like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

I want my peers to know that CAPS is a genuinely welcoming space. They offer many services other than traditional, one-on-one therapy for anyone seeking more support, and above all, that seeking support is normal and okay and can be really helpful!

Melissa is a third year Intensive Psychology major, and she is affiliated with Cowell.

CAPS Student Hero: Michelle Vo

One of our newer initiatives at CAPS is our Peer Education Program (PEP). The CAPS peers support the mission of our counseling center by fighting stigma, facilitating workshops, helping with marketing, and other projects. If you’d like to help out at CAPS like today’s hero Michelle, keep an eye on the blog in upcoming weeks for information on volunteer opportunities.


What do you do regularly to relieve stress? 

Whenever I am stressed, I like to spend time by myself to relax my mind but at the same time I like to prioritize my schedule and responsibilities, here are some examples!

  1. Take a nice walk by myself with my headphones on; listening to my favorite songs ‘Slow Dancing in a Burning Room’ by John Mayer and ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’ by Michael Buble!
  2. People watch from a coffee shop or a shady bench on campus.
  3. Take a walk at West Cliff Drive or at the beach.
  4. Most importantly, I like to map out the things I have to do and take action! I remind myself to pace myself and make sure my plate is not too full.

Tell us about something you’re passionate about outside of school (e.g., clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

I’m interested in Asian American communities and their connection to mental illnesses. As a Vietnamese American student, I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum. I’ve witnessed the differences of how mental illnesses are treated/untreated and I want to be able to be a resource for my own community!  Something else I’m passionate about is social justice issues regarding gender differences,  and equal rights and opportunities for marginalized communities. Being aware and knowledgeable about these issues is a step further into educating others and inspiring action within the community. I also enjoy spending time petting, walking, cuddling, loving all sorts of dogs! I have three little puppies at home.

If you could share one thing that you’d like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

Something I want to share with all my slug peers is that after interacting with many CAPS faculty, I can say with confidence that all of the CAPS counselors are very well trained, approachable, and wholeheartedly caring of their campus community.

Michelle Vo is a fourth year Intensive Psychology major affiliated with College Nine. 


Reducing Stigma through Artwork: A PEP Outreach Project

turtleHello and welcome to the new school year! My name is Hilaria Barajas and I’m excited to start off my second year as a Peer Educator at CAPS. The Peer Education Program (PEP) is in its third year here at UCSC and has been growing exponentially. Initially consisting of 6 members, we are now a group of 13 undergraduates! We look forward to continuing to serve and reach the student body population this year. Catch PEP members holding workshops, tabling events, creating projects and providing info and updates on all things CAPS around campus!

Last year, PEP members were responsible for creating an independent outreach project to increase CAPS visibility on campus. My own project consisted of gathering student artwork to create promotional posters. After three UCSC students and one alumni submitted unique photographs and digital artwork, my photoshop-fluent friend and I edited and added text to the designs. Finally, thanks to the generous and helpful staff at The Cellar on campus, the posters were printed! Continue reading

Upcoming Events: the Stress Less Workshop!

The CAPS Peer Education Program (PEP) is proud to announce the debut of its Stress Less Workshop on November 9th: the 1.5 hour workshop is meant to inform UCSC students of the pervasiveness of stress, and to help students define and identify some sources of anxiety in their own lives. Rather than vilify it, PEP volunteers will seek to normalize stress and discuss stress’s benefits when it’s well-managed. PEP volunteers will also walk their peers through possible coping and mindfulness strategies. After a luxurious-feeling, but absolutely reproducible, relaxation exercise PEP volunteers will offer a wide range of on or off-campus references for anyone seeking more comprehensive guidance. PEP volunteers aim to host a laid-back, relaxing, inclusive and conversational workshop that leaves its guests with a renewed sense of self-awareness and personalized solutions for managing their own stress. The workshops are completely free and open to anyone: please come by and take a moment to care for your mental health!
-PEP Team

Welcome Back: Introducing our new PEP Team!

Hi Slugs!

We hope you are all enjoying Fall Quarter so far, and that midterms aren’t getting the best of you. We’d like to introduce you all to our new Peer Educators for 2015-2016. This is the third year for the Peer Education Program (PEP), and this year we’ve grown to 13 undergraduate members. The CAPS PEP members increase awareness and reduce stigma about mental health issues. The Peer Educators will provide Stress-Less workshops, outreach and tabling to promote CAPS and stigma reduction, they collaborate with CAPS staff and students, and they’re here to help you all!

Here are some of the activities PEP members have been involved in:

  • Tabling at multiple campus-wide events throughout the academic year
  • Assisting with the CAPS Relaxation Station
  • Managing the PEP blog
  • Providing presentations on CAPS services and mental health to large lecture classes
  • Promoting and staffing National Depression Screening Day
  • Assisting with the annual Candlelight Vigil for suicide awareness and prevention
  • Creating the Mental Health Awareness Flower display for passive programming on stigma reduction
  • Art projects focused on stigma reduction
  • Attendance at the 2013 Peer Education Conference at UC Irvine
  • Blog posts on a variety of topics relevant for college students
    • Boosting Self-Confidence
    • Preparing for Graduation and a Smooth Transition
    • “Model Minority”; Discussing Mental Health with Families
    • Unique Pressures Facing First Generation Students
    • And many more!

And here they are, your PEP team for this year!

PEP team

We’ll be introducing each member by posting a bio, so look out for those in the coming weeks. We hope you enjoy getting to know the PEP members, and take advantage of what PEP, and CAPS, have to offer!