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 Coordinator for the 2016-17 year is Peer Educator Emma Burke!

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

The Impact of Technology

Hey Slugs! Today we are sharing a great article, written by one of our hard working PEP members, Samer, about how technology can affect our ability to be connected with ourselves. Have fun reading!


You are sitting on a chair, waiting. You are having a difficult time in a class this quarter and decided to seek help by going to your professor’s office hours. You are waiting to talk to him but the guy in front of you really just does not understand what is happening in class. As you sit there waiting, the urge to check your phone encapsulates you. You get out your phone and begin scrolling through Twitter, mindlessly looking at tweets, and continue reading well packaged thoughts from people you barely know.

Later on in the day, you are at the bus stop, waiting for the 10 to come and pick you up so you can go home. As you are sitting there by yourself, the urge appears again. You open up Snapchat and begin to watch everyone’s stories and you even begin to post some funny ones yourself. Later in the night, it comes to the point when your roommates are asleep and you are sitting in the dark and you feel so much discomfort. You pull out your phone and check Facebook. You used to be able to just get into your bed and crash. This was my daily reality and this wasn’t what life used to be like growing up. It wasn’t like this for my parents either. But imagining that is so strange now and that in itself is weird. I feel the world around me changing, but I don’t know if I like the direction it’s going in. Some people don’t see growing social media use as an issue, but I eventually saw the results of those growing urges.

In a world dominated by technology, it only seems normal to check your phone in your spare time. And the long term effects and rooted reasons for it don’t seem apparent. But when I actually sit down and think about it, the fact that most of society feels bound to technology is a bit scary. Can technology/social media (phones specifically) be detrimental to the development of humans?

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CAPS Student Hero: Ila Rutten

Hello Slugs! Can you believe the quarter is almost over? We’re nearly there! Today we’d like to introduce one amazing Peer Educator, Ila. She helps run this blog, among several other PEP duties. Thanks for everything these past couple quarters, Ila!

UntitledWhat do you do regularly to relieve stress?

I’ve come to accept that I’m a disorganized person. Unless I make deliberate efforts to stay clean, my desk disappears under a pile of papers and my bed is overwhelmed with a mountain of clothes. My brain is the same way: my anxieties and worries expand and saturate my mental space unless I take action.When I incorporate some gentle structures into my routine to stay organized, I feel calmer and I have more mental clarity. A few “mental hygiene” routines help me focus on the present moment and cordon stressful thoughts to the appropriate time. When I wake up, I start the day by mentally listing 3 things that I’m grateful for as well as my primary intention for that day. Later, I do a few minutes of meditation (I think of this as strength conditioning for my brain). They’re simple rituals, but keeping my life lightly structured helps me from becoming overwhelmed by stressful thoughts.

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

I try to stay as involved as I can with my family’s chocolate-making business, and a lot of my friends and family work in the restaurant industry. Growing up in this environment as turned me into an incurable “foodie”, but I’m also very concerned with the more practical issues surrounding food like sustainability, environmental conservation and food security. Also, I like to dabble in writing, drawing, and playing music. I think I just reached a turning point where I can accept imperfection in these hobbies. Not only does it feel freeing, I think this attitude has actually made me a better artist!

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

I want people to know that they should never feel shame for feeling like they need help with mental health issues. There is far too much stigma surrounding mental health care, and I firmly believe that we should all practice “mental hygiene” and regularly check in on our minds. Most of us automatically brush our teeth twice a day, or apply bandages and antiseptic to cuts and scrapes. I envision a society where we also have habitual practices that serve our mental health.

Ila is a fourth year, double majoring in Politics and Psychology, and she is affiliated with Stevenson.

The Pressure’s Off

CAPS Peer Educator Emma Burke shares her experience of navigating a relationship during the transition to college. Read on to see what she has to say!


UntitledWith everything we hear from our favorite TV shows, movies, and even music, it’s easy to begin thinking that by the time we get to college, we need to be in a serious relationship. College is where everyone finds their partner, right? Well, maybe not so right. According to The Daily Dot, only twenty-eight percent of married college graduates actually met their spouses during college while attending the same University (Klee). What does this tell us? College is where we come to grow into well-rounded adults. Do we like surfing? Do we enjoy tofu or steak? Do we want to travel, and if so, where do we want to go? Each one of us has to answer these questions for ourselves, and we have limitless opportunities to do so! There is no reason why we can’t find our partner along the way, but there’s also no pressure to be on the hunt for our soulmate before we find out what we actually want in one. And the most important thing to keep in mind is that if we feel the pressure to find a partner, we may be more likely to “plug someone in” instead of finding someone we truly want in our lives. Overlooking someone’s faults in an attempt to fulfill one’s societal duties can lead to unhealthy relationships and unhappiness.

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CAPS STUDENT HERO: Hilaria Barajas

The intrepid Hilaria Barajas often leads the charge in ideas and projects here at PEP, so we are long overdue in introducing her to the student body for which she serves!


What do you do regularly to relieve stress? 

Meditation in bed before I sleep helps me deal with stress. I enjoy being completely alone and within myself for those few minutes of complete non-judgment and deep breathing. At first it was difficult to focus my thoughts inwards since my mind tends to wander all over the place. Stopping to address and thank my mind for working the way it does helped me feel comfortable in my own silence. I still get distracted sometimes, but practice helps!

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

I am passionate about my communities and the future. I like to try new things that allow me to learn more about myself and my surroundings, whether that be through music, connecting with people or nature, eating, dancing, writing, etc. I am passionate about shaping my own future and in turn shaping the future of my communities.    

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

CAPS is here for YOU. It is centered around students and student mental health needs. College is stressful and It’s okay to ask for help. CAPS is completely confidential and free so if you’re even a little bit curious, try it out.

Hilaria is a third year Psychology major affiliated with College Nine


CAPS Student Hero: Emma Burke

Greetings Slugs! We hope you are all practicing self-care as we progress through the quarter. Today we are disclosing one CAPS Peer Educator’s personal tips to relieve stress (as well as a few other juicy details about her).

What do you do regularly to relieve stress? 

One of the things I like to do that helps me relieve stress is to make a “To Do” list. At the beginning of the week I put everything I need to do on a list and leave it on my desk so that I can check things off as I go. It’s a really satisfying feeling when I get to cross off a task or an assignment, and it helps me feel like I am in control and keeps me from getting too overwhelmed.

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

In my free time it’s pretty difficult to get me out of the water. I love swimming, being in the ocean, and playing water polo. I play water polo for the club team here at UCSC and it’s been a great way for me to get to play the sport I love, make new friends, and relieve stress. Aside from water polo, I am also really passionate about helping people understand the idea that mental health is just as important as physical health. I am so excited to be a Peer Educator because I want to spread the word that mental health is important and if you ever need help maintaining it, it is nothing to be ashamed of.

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

I want everyone to know that CAPS is here ready to welcome you with open arms. When your ankle swells up and you can’t walk, do you go see a doctor? Well, when you need someone to talk to, CAPS is also here. It’s as simple as that.

Emma Burke is a second year Psychology and Literature double major affiliated with Merrill. 

Are You Running Out Of Time?

Hey Slugs! We hope you enjoy this article from one of our Peer Educators, Miriam Medina, about finding a balance with time management. Enjoy, and keep checking back for more articles by our great PEP Team!


Is it me or is this quarter going by ridiculously fast? It seems as though we have tons of assignments and tasks that are piling up before us with very little time to complete each one. What does our situation call for? Time management.


We have heard about it thousands of times from our advisors, professors, and even friends. The actual act of managing your time consists of thinking out all your responsibilities and activities and distributing them thoughtfully throughout your days of the week; in order, to ensure that they are completed efficiently. Such activities will probably include going to classes, doing homework, working, or even doing exercise. But as you have already probably figured out, the actual act of managing your time is way easier said and talked about than done. So how can we make it easier for it to be actually be “done”?

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CAPS Student Hero: Aditi Sheth

Hello fellow Slugs! Today we’d like to introduce another amazing PEP member, Aditi. We’re so glad to have her on the team this year. Thanks for all you do, Aditi!

DSC_0081What do you do regularly to relieve stress?

When I get stressed I like to decompress. When I’m really stressed, my feelings and emotions tend to build to the point where I have to create environments for myself that are less stimulating. The ways that I do that are unplugging, reading a good book or watching a good tv show. I recently learned of a new type of deep breathing exercise through the CAPS Stress Less presentation and started incorporating it into my routine. It works really well.

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

I’m passionate about a lot of things! I love children and I enjoy working with them on their academics and overall well being. I like keeping active and I enjoy such sports as tennis and baseball. I recently started kickboxing and it’s a lot of fun. I also like curling up with a good book and keeping my finger of the pulse of pop culture, watching TV and movies.

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

If I could tell my peers anything about CAPS, I would say that CAPS services are confidential, and genuinely there to help you, no matter what you think the size or the scope of the problem is. CAPS works on a day to day basis to help students deal with their individual stresses, but beyond this, they work hard reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health services. They consider both the battle and the war. And that’s really important.

Aditi is a second year Intensive Psychology major, affiliated with Crown.