Welcome back from winter break, slugs! We hope you had a restful and happy time with family and friends! However, sometimes spending time with family and friends can cause added pressure and bring up colliding viewpoints that can be stressful. Read on to hear Jonathon’s experiences dealing with stigma surrounding mental health in family situations and how he deals with it.

Adapting to Your Parents’ Views About Mental Health

by Jonathon Tsou

Most of you who read this blog understand that there is a stigma toward mental health. I would even go in length to say that you probably want to help remove stigma toward mental health. As a Peer Educator for CAPS, this is my goal too. I wanted to write this blog article because sometimes the most difficult group of people to talk about mental health with are our parents. A report by the National Institute of Health (, showed that older adults with mental health illnesses are unlikely to seek professional help. This is not because they do not have access to mental health care, this is because they do not trust in it.



One of the issues that I hear from my peers is that they are afraid to tell their parents that they struggle with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue. And for some parents, this is a real issue that they do not like to talk about. But I would like to stress that whenever anyone of us is struggling with mental health illnesses, it is important to have the support of your family. A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with a friend of mine who struggled with depression. She told me that the scariest thing about talking to her parents was not the part about depression, but about meeting with a therapist every month. She said she did not want to disappoint them and have them be upset with her. However, I do believe that her parents were not upset with her, but they may have been upset if they felt responsible or helpless in solving the problem.

It is difficult sometimes to understand and deal with generational gaps and cultural differences regarding important issues such as mental health. However, many of us deal with this struggle on a daily basis. We want to be honest and open with our parents while still respecting their differing ideas and values.

And of course some parents may be disappointed. But remember that it is important to take care of yourself and your own needs. Furthermore, you can find a supportive community of peers and friends at UCSC and utilize the resources available to you. CAPS and my fellow Peer Educators and I will always be on your side and support you all the way.



As the Fall Quarter comes to a close, the CAPS Peer Education Program would like to thank you for checking out our blog and learning about CAPS and our mission here! We are so excited to be serving our campus community and increasing awareness and accessibility for the wonderful CAPS resources that we have here.

We wish you the best of luck for your finals! And don’t forget to prioritize your mental health while you study. Have a nice break, and we look forward to continue decreasing stigma with our blog during Winter Quarter!


Hey Slugs! Finals are here and for many of us, our stress levels are increasing. Test anxiety is a real issue that a lot of students face, and it’s not something that we should be ignoring. Read on to learn more about how you might better combat your test anxiety during finals.

Test Stress

by Emma Burke

Looking at a blank blue book will give me cotton mouth anytime, anywhere. And sitting down to take an exam, or even to write a paper, I often find my heart racing and my mind playing worst case scenarios on a loop. At times, my test anxiety has effected my performance because it inhibits my ability to concentrate and recall important information that I studied hours to remember. However, I know that I am not alone in these symptoms. The American Test Anxieties Association reports that 16-20% of students have high test anxiety.

So clearly, test anxiety is a problem that many of us face. But how can we work to solve it? A great first step is defining and coming to terms with your own unique struggles. A good way to better understand your areas for growth might be to take a test anxiety scale test. You can find a widespread and reputable scale here.

Now that we know what we’re dealing with, there are many different tips and strategies we can use to help us live efficiently with test anxiety. What personally works for me, is to develop a mantra that combats my most recurring fears. For example, I repeat to myself before a test both out loud and in my head, “I worked hard in this class, I studied as much as I could and I have earned a good grade. But no matter what happens, it’s only one test.” Mantras such as these can remind us that our fears and anxieties are often untrue, even when they feel real to us in the moment. Other helpful tips and strategies include putting things into perspective and reminding yourself that one test does not define you, recalling your past successes, giving yourself practice tests (even try timing them), and doing your best to get as much sleep as possible during the week prior to your exam. A more detailed list of test anxiety tips and strategies can be found here.

Finally, check out the CAPS website at UCSC for more helpful tips and resources. The CAPS Peer Education Program also offers a workshop free for students specifically focused on Test Anxiety and how to manage it. The workshop is offered quarterly and the Winter 2018 schedule can be found on the CAPS website and Facebook page during the first few weeks of Winter Quarter.



On behalf of the Peer Education Program, we hope that you’re having a good Monday so far! Hopefully we can make your week even better by introducing you to a vital member of our team, Priyanka! Priyanka has brought a lot of fun energy and great ideas to our group during her first year as a Peer Educator. Read on to find out more about why we like Priyanka so much!

What do you do regularly to relieve stress?

Hello! I’m Priyanka! CAPS is a great place to get support for problems you may be facing. You can learn a lot through CAPS, like ways to relieve stress. When I’m stressed out, I usually remind myself how small my brain is in comparison to the rest of the world and the rest of the universe. When I am stressing out about something that is taking up most of my energy, I remind myself that I need to breathe and recognize what is around me to ground myself and understand that I am human.

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

Doing things that I love help me calm myself down. I am very passionate about writing and making art that gives some sort of message about the world. I like writing screenplays and stories and painting works of art that make people think about the world and how we could change the everyday into something more accepting that represents the diverse world we live in. Writing and art is my passion and I want to use it to push forward vital ideas.

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

Something you should know about CAPS is that it has many different services and can connect you with different resources that you could use. All UCSC students can get CAPS services!


Priyanka is a third year double majoring in Film and Sociology. She is affiliated with Oakes College.


Self care is a term that has been popularized in the past couple of years. It has slowly begun to take on many different shapes and forms in the hands of marketing specialists, psychologists, and bloggers. However, it is important to stop and ask yourself, what does self care really mean to you?


by Janely Cárdenas Vargas

I find it difficult writing the message I want to convey to you all. I’m going to be honest; my life right now is a little crazy. How do I deal with all of this? That’s a great question, isn’t it? I think I have the answer to it. I mean, with midterms, family matters, friends needing my help, school events I don’t want to miss; how does one take care of all of it? ALSO, how does one keep themselves sane? I sometimes wish I could duplicate myself, or triplicate or even quadruplicate myself.

Stress is real and it is very present!! It’s for sure making its presence known!! If this is true to you, I really want you to know that you are NOT alone; I feel you 110%. As a PEER educator, we share some common ground. I like to think that you and I are on the same team. I am here for you but you are also helping me – without explicitly saying so or even purposefully trying to do so.

SO, let’s remind each other that our bodies, minds, and spirits are important. I’ve forgotten that I MATTER!! Me, little Janely, matters. YOU matter! It’s easy to forget that our bodies are plants that need water, sun, and nutrient(s). We need to feed our flower. Feeding can take many different forms. Whether your food is exercising, listening to music, dancing, cooking, hanging out, meditating, drawing, painting, creating music, etc. Do what fuels your spirit and inspires you to keep going. If you have yet to find out what gets your warm feelings going, I suggest you explore!! This world has a lot to offer. I have yet to explore too. So far, I have found that right now, music is my sun, meditation is my water, and yoga is my nutrient. Notice how I said “right now.” Our water, sun, and nutrient(s) are constantly changing as WE change, grow, and evolve everyday. You don’t have to stick to one thing. You CAN have multiple kinds of fuels; let’s not restrict ourselves to one or three! Sometimes some fuels may work some days and other days they may not. That’s why it’s good to have back ups – a lot of them!

This might sound a little preachy but I personally believe that mindfulness, and self-awareness are the keys to finding inner peace. It is important that we all get to know ourselves; how we react, why we react, what triggers us, what makes us feel good, what keeps us sane, what helps us, who is hurting us emotionally, what situations make us feel uncomfortable etc. I encourage you to first start exploring what your sun, water, and nutrient(s) are! Once you figure that out, everything else may resolve itself. And if that doesn’t work, or if you feel stuck, or simply lost, I am here for you (and CAPS)! After all, we BOTH are plants trying to grow on this mad earth.


It is my pleasure to introduce you to another core member of our Peer Education team, Aditi! Aditi is our Workshop Coordinator, and she works enthusiastically to ensure that all of our workshops around campus are set up effectively and efficiently. She is always ready to get to work and we appreciate her fantastic work ethic! Learn more about Aditi below.

What 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 tDSC_0081he 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 sports such 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 on 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 to reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health services and that’s really important.

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


Peer Educator Sareil shares her informed research and knowledge with us on the issue of police brutality and its effects on the mental health of people of color and particularly Black males in America. Read on to learn about Sareil’s research and her ideas for reform.


by Sareil Brookins

The result of racism and racial discrimination in America is exemplified in Black people when they are not able to live a conscious life without being reminded of their Blackness. The Black experience encompasses being under constant threat and is displayed through inescapable, draining, and understated behaviors from outsiders, for example, police. The criminal justice system—more specifically the police force—has been known as a threat to mental health, due to impacting stress. Police shootings of Black men in America become viral within minutes of the murders as technology advances, thus, this makes the endless murder of Black men displayed graphically on mass media outlets salient in the Black mind.

With this knowledge, it is evident that the outcomes of these fatal encounters are more than likely what comes to mind when Black males encounter the police. The contact of police with Black males, whether or not a law is broken, is a likely event that will increase stress exponentially before, during, and even after the encounter. Various empirical studies have examined the relationship between stress and police contact in Black males and in fact, result in similar findings.

Landers, Rollock, Rolfes, & Moore (2011) explored the attitudes toward police in relation to the frequency of police contact along with the stressfulness of those encounters among Black college students. They used 101 (66 women, 35 men) Black undergraduates from various Universities to rate the frequency and stressfulness of race-related, college-related, and police-related events. The rating was based on a stress scale that calculated the mean stress score for each item. Landers et al., (2011) results were that participants described police contacts as being stressful and the Black men reported significantly greater stressfulness of police contacts. The police-related events had high differences in whether or not the contact was kind or threatening, therefore, they found that not only was stress considerably higher in threatening contacts but Black men had those encounters far more than the Black women. These findings suggest that stress connected with police contact is explicit and separate from other factors of the Black undergraduate student’s life (i.e. exams, extracurricular activities). In addition, the findings emphasize the need for more research on the contributing factors of stress increase in the Black community.

Furthermore, police contact may threaten the health of Black men in several ways, therefore the ways in which police talk, approach, handle, and view Black men must be investigated and altered completely. The stress provoking encounters only add to the salience of one’s Blackness, particularly for Black men, and will not improve if the police force is not reformed in its overall training that still to this day has racially discriminating undertones at its core. Moreover, suggestions for future research revolve around studying the training that police participate in, examining how it targets Black men, and proposing ways to reform the system.

Works Cited: Landers, A. J., Rollock, D., Rolfes, C. B., & Moore, D. L. (2011). Police contacts and stress among African American college students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 81(1)