IN RECENT YEARS, college students' mental health has become a greater concern at UC campuses (as on campuses across the country) as more and more students are experiencing mental health concerns that are qualitatively different and more complex than in previous generations. Nationally, for example, nearly half of all college students report feeling so depressed at some point that they have trouble functioning. Additionally, student mental health issues affect academic communities in a variety of ways, including disruptive and hostile behavior in classrooms and suicidal threats in the residence halls.
In December 2005, UC Provost and Executive Vice President Rory Hume charged a 12-member Student Mental Health Committee with examining trends in student mental health, both nationally and at the University of California, and reviewing how these trends are being managed. The committee completed its work and reported its finding and recommendations to the UC Regents at their September 2006 meeting (www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/sept06/303attach.pdf).
The committee recommended in its report a comprehensive three-tiered plan for all the UC campuses. The first tier restores critical services lost to budget cuts; the second tier implements targeted intervention programs for the most vulnerable students; and the third tier puts into place a comprehensive institutional approach to creating healthier learning environments. Provost Hume commented that "the committee's report is an important step toward addressing these critical issues." He further stated, "[w]e must respond to this rising challenge of student mental health with a comprehensive plan."
At UCSB, we have taken the Student Mental Health Committee's three-tiered recommendations and created a conceptual framework for our campus's efforts, named the "Healthy Campus Initiative (HCI)" This campus initiative is a broad-based plan intended to provide a more comprehensive and enhanced framework of services, support structures, programs, and activities that promote and provide a safe, supportive, responsive, integrated, and healthy living/learning community for UCSB students. For example, the HCI plan includes in tier one additional psychologists to bring our campus closer to the national recommended ratio for psychologists to students while also increasing the number of psychiatrists, social workers, disabilities specialists, and judicial affairs staff. In tier two, the UCSB plan creates targeted intervention programs to identify and respond to students who demonstrate evidence of possible mental health decline. In tier three, in order to enhance students' ability to manage academically related stress, the plan dramatically expands UCSB's key academic support and learning services (e.g., in math, science, foreign language, writing clinics, course-specific tutoring, staffed study groups, and assistance in courses known to be particularly difficult).
We will keep you updated as the planning and implementation of UCSB's Healthy Campus Initiative moves forward.
THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION defines wellness as "complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." As such, wellness is proactive rather than reactive, addressing not only health and fitness, but also a high quality of life. UCSB's new Wellness Program embraces this approach and engages students in learning about, taking responsibility for, and practicing wellness as a lifelong endeavor.
Currently located in several on-campus student residence halls and at the University Center, satellite wellness centers serve as "gateways to wellness" for UCSB students. This is particularly important for the many students who might never visit existing wellness services located across campus (Student Health Service's Alcohol and Drug Program or the Counseling Center, for example), but who would take advantage of a wellness center housed where they live or do campus business. The many wellness activities featured at the satellite centers support students in learning responsible behaviors that promote good nutrition, exercise and fitness, moderate drinking, the formation of intimate relationships free from abuse and unsafe sex, and positive social involvement. A "Wellness Passport" markets center services and offers incentives for students to access existing campus programs, services, and activities. At wellness center locations around campus, students interact with professional staff who introduce them to campus mental, physical and social resources. Examples of wellness services regularly promoted include: meditation, sexual health, nutrition, alcohol/drug education, sporting events, group fitness classes, multicultural performances, study skills workshops, volunteer opportunities, massage and egg chair visits, food tasting, hikes, career assessments, and programs that connect faculty to students outside of the classroom.
To learn more about the UCSB Wellness Program, visit the Web site at http://wellness.sa.ucsb.edu or contact Sabina White, director of health education at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mark Shishim, wellness coordinator, at email@example.com. To learn more about how you can support wellness at UCSB, please contact Laura Lambert, director of development for Student Affairs, at (805) 893-8542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EACH YEAR of your son's or daughter's career at UCSB will present unique challenges and opportunities to navigate. Here, in very broad terms, are some highlights from each of the four class levels to help you better understand and support your student's experience.
The freshman year is all about exploring and adjusting. Our university is a large institution and first-year students have the opportunity to explore an abundance of new course options, while adjusting to new academic processes and strict deadlines. To be successful, first-year students often need to improve both their study skills and their approach to time management. In addition, the transition from living at home to living in a residence hall with a roommate (or two), on a floor with dozens of other students, and eating in a dining commons with hundreds of students, can be daunting. Your son or daughter will need to put effort into developing new friendships and spend time getting involved in this new community.
How you can help:
- Remind your student of the tutorial services and study skills workshops offered at Campus Learning Assistance Service (CLAS).
- Encourage your son or daughter to visit department Web sites for critical information about deadlines and appropriate processes.
- Ask your student about participation in residence hall activities, campus events, and student organizations.
- If you sense that your son or daughter is experiencing a difficult transition, remind him or her to talk with a resident advisor or freshman mentor.
Lately, the sophomore experience has been getting a lot of attention nationally as students leave the security of first-year programs and support, and find themselves challenged by navigating the university with more autonomy and less direction from others. This is the stage where your son or daughter may begin to question prior decisions and worry about mistakes. He or she will need to devote time to gaining a better self-understanding, which will be essential in becoming more self-directed in decision making. This is the time to narrow the field of potential majors and explore opportunities like the Education Abroad Program. By the end of this year, a student should be fairly certain of which major he or she will pursue.
How you can help:
- Reassure your son or daughter that mistakes are a part of life and that there is still time to make changes in his or her academic plan.
- Encourage your student to talk with faculty and staff in potential major departments and with advisors in his or her college office.
- Brainstorm together possible solutions to challenges and tell your student you are proud of him or her and confident in his or her ability to make informed decisions.
Students in their junior year are at a pivotal stage where they need to make a strong connection between academics and future life goals. This will require your student to spend considerable time researching the next step after graduation. He or she should consider internship opportunities, find an academic mentor, and participate in research opportunities. This is also an excellent time to run for an elected office, take on a leadership position in a student organization, or volunteer in the community.
How you can help:
- Encourage your son or daughter to visit Career Services and talk with a career advisor.
- Be supportive of the career direction your student chooses to follow and let go of your expectations.
- Discuss the advantages of participating in a faculty member's research or working in an internship.
The senior year is filled with many decisions and tasks that will have long-lasting impact for your student. This is the time for your son or daughter to implement many of his or her goals. Your son or daughter may choose to complete a senior project, develop an independent study, become a tutor, interview for a job after graduation, or apply to graduate school. These involvements, combined with a heavy academic load, can significantly increase stress for even the most conscientious student.
How you can help:
- Be aware of the pressures your son or daughter may face and be sensitive to his or her emotional state.
- Remind your student to find healthy and productive ways to relieve stress.
- Express confidence in your son's or daughter's ability to succeed.
- Be excited about your student's accomplishments and begin planning a wonderful commencement celebration (remember to make hotel reservations many months in advance).
PARTIES ARE A PART of every college community, and college students have no shortage of reasons to celebrate-whether it's a roommate's birthday, Superbowl Sunday, or the end of final exams. There is no set formula for fun, but many, though not all, college parties involve some alcohol. Not all parties are created equal when it comes to illegal or risky behavior like underage or binge drinking, but Isla Vista has its own unique set of laws, designed specifically to address problems that arise from college parties. In recent years, some property managers in Isla Vista have begun including lease conditions that prohibit kegs and live music or cap the number of guests allowed on a property.
Funded by a state grant through the Santa Barbara County Alcohol and Other Drug Program, Residence Training features a two-and-a-half-hour interactive course on local laws, lease policies, and safe party practices. During the course, students identify factors which have the potential to create high-risk party environments, such as underage drinking, large or unmonitored sources of alcohol, overcrowding, and uninvited guests. Hosting a party is an important responsibility that requires understanding liability and implementing techniques to reduce both liability and risks.
Property managers seem to agree. A number of property owners and managers are offering benefits to students who complete the training, such as boosted ratings on housing applications and reductions in fines. "It will definitely help in the application process," said BDC Property Supervisor Katie Maher. "Applicants who take or plan to take the class are more impressive than those who don't put in the extra effort. We know that applicants who take the class are trying to be more responsible tenants."
Residence Training Coordinator Ryan Walkow explained that participants are also encouraged to think about healthy ways to socialize in Isla Vista. "We know that students enjoy getting together and having a good time, and our training emphasizes that high-risk drinking is not a prerequisite for either." To encourage alternative late-night activities, Residence Training offers its participants free passes to improvisational comedy shows and movie tickets. "Student reaction has been very positive and gratifying," notes Walkow. "One participant said he would recommend the training to anyone his age. Another participant told me he learned how to have fun at a party without drinking alcohol."
Residence Training operates on the belief that students have the ability to make good decisions about personal safety if given sufficient information and support. As a parent, you can help by asking your son or daughter to participate in the training. To schedule an appointment or for more information, call the Residence Training office at (805) 968-7010 or e-mail Ryan Walkow, program coordinator, at RyanW7@cox.net.
AS PREPARED AND GIFTED as UCSB students are, they sometimes need help adjusting to the academic rigor of the university. Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS) provides that help. When students leave CLAS tutorial sessions, study skills workshops, and drop-in labs, they leave believing that they can master the task.
Even if the "working day" is over, CLAS instructors wait for their students to return from exams in order to debrief and process course material. Imagine the working relationship that develops between instructors and students when they meet weekly in the same tutorial group to complete a year-long sequence of chemistry, organic chemistry, physics or math. Imagine how empowered students feel when they walk into a workshop with only lecture notes, textbooks, and syllabi and leave with study plans. And imagine how confident students feel when professionals help them to maximize their learning styles.
At CLAS, students get one-on-one assistance through the Tutorial Program and drop-in labs in math, statistics, physics, biology, chemistry, economics, writing and foreign language. More than 600 CLAS tutorial groups-which are both student and instructor driven-work in tandem with university courses, meeting once or twice weekly to review lecture material. Instructors work from lesson plans, yet are sensitive to the students' pace. Students especially appreciate one of the most popular services offered by CLAS-the exam review session.
Through the Academic Skills Program and more than 200 study skills workshops a year offered by CLAS, students learn time management, essay and objective exam preparation, reading comprehension, and note-taking. Students also take advantage of course-specific workshops (e.g., writing workshops in preparation for a history assignment) and workshops targeting academic needs identified by faculty and students. One-on-one consultations are also available to help students address their unique learning needs.
At CLAS, students receive not only academic help but also mentoring by those committed to lifelong learning. CLAS tutors and instructors serve as coaches, helping students to counter negative learning experiences that have left them believing that they cannot succeed in certain areas such as writing or math. Many seniors come by after graduation to acknowledge the role that CLAS played in their academic achievement. These students are proof that CLAS is an active ingredient in student success.
The vast majority of CLAS services are offered free of charge. Given recent budget cuts, CLAS services can be maintained only with additional support from alumni, friends, and parents. All contributions make a difference! To support CLAS, please contact Laura Lambert, director of development, at (805) 893-8542 or Laurie Hoyle, director of grant development, at (805) 893-5037.
- Every month, electronic newsletters filled with advice and information relevant to each class level go out to every student at UCSB. Written by teams of professional staff members serving as student mentors, these e-mails contain information about services, deadlines, events, and employment opportunities. For individualized attention, students may respond via e-mail with questions or to schedule an in-person appointment with a mentor.
- The Leadership Certificate Program (LCP), created by the Division of Student Affairs, is a co-curricular program designed to develop future leaders with integrity and dedication to their respective interests. Through participation in the program, students gain awareness and understanding of a variety of leadership approaches, styles and attitudes. The LCP introduces students to the theories and concepts of leadership, enhances their leadership skills, and develops their awareness of major social issues confronting our global community and leaders.
- Associated Students' fall quarter voter registration drive was conducted in partnership with the Division of Student Affairs in preparation for the general election. The UCSB Voter Registration Volunteer Coalition was led by seniors Bill Shiebler and Hillary Blackerby. The Coalition, along with Office of Student Life voter registration interns and numerous non-partisan student volunteers, helped register 9,377 students. This highly successful campaign was accomplished by talking to students in classrooms, residence halls, and highly trafficked areas of campus; registering voters at a wide variety of student activities and events such as Convocation and the annual Activities Faire; and canvassing door-to-door in the student community of Isla Vista.
- Commencement 2007 dates have been set for Sunday, June 10, 2007, at 11:00 a.m. (College of Creative Studies) and Saturday, June 16 and Sunday, June 17, 2007. Information regarding the ceremonies is available on the UCSB Commencement Web site at www.ia.ucsb.edu/commencement. Parents are advised to make hotel and restaurant reservations early since accommodations fill up quickly in the Santa Barbara area during this time of year. Visit the Commencement Web site for local accommodations, dining suggestions, professional photography information, and much more. If you have questions regarding Commencement, please call (805) 893-7382.
- UCSB's La Cumbre Yearbook will be taking free senior photos January 29 to February 9, 2007. Encourage your son or daughter to stop in at the base of Storke Tower to take a photo and to order a copy of the 2007 yearbook. Visit their Web site at: http://lacumbreyearbook.sa.ucsb.edu for more information.
- An All Gaucho Reunion is being planned by the Alumni Association for the weekend of April 27-29, 2007. All UCSB alumni are invited to return to campus for this celebration weekend when a variety of events are planned. For complete information, visit their Web site at: www.ucsbalum.com/All_Gaucho_Reunion
For highlights and photos: http://ucsbgauchos.cstv.com
- December 15, 2006 - Fees for winter quarter 2007 must be paid or deferred with the Billing Office (805-893-3756) by 4 p.m. on this date. The aid (except some Parent Loans) is automatically credited to your son's or daughter's BARC account with a minimum enrollment of 6 units prior to this date. Students can check the status of their BARC account at https://mybarc.ucsb.edu and their financial aid status on the Financial Aid Office Web site at www.finaid.ucsb.edu. They should also view the winter quarter checklist on the Financial Aid Office Web site. More information on this process is available on pages 12 and 13 in the winter 2007 Schedule of Classes.
- January 1, 2007 - The 2007-2008 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be filed with the federal processor beginning on this date. To be considered for financial aid for the next academic year, your son or daughter must re-apply each year and list UC Santa Barbara, school code #001320, in Step 6 of the FAFSA. It can also be filed electronically on the Internet at www.fafsa.ed.gov, which is strongly recommended.
- March 2, 2007 - This is the priority filing deadline for UCSB financial aid and for Cal Grants. Students who file a 2007-2008 FAFSA after this deadline will be considered only for federal Pell Grants, Academic Competitiveness Grants, SMART grants, and student loans. Even if your student has not filed your 2006 federal tax return by the FAFSA priority deadline, he or she can still supply estimated information on the 2007-2008 FAFSA in order to file by the priority deadline.
- March 15, 2007 - Fees for spring quarter 2007 must be paid or deferred with the Billing Office (805-893-3756) by 4 p.m. on this date. (See information above for December 15)
- April 15, 2007 - This is the deadline to file your 2006 federal tax return with the Internal Revenue Service. (Note: Your son or daughter can access information on educational tax credits at the following Web site: www.nasfaa.org/publications/2000/grevhopecc111698.html.
- Note: If your student filed a FAFSA for the 2006-2007 academic year, the FAFSA processor will attempt to inform your student via e-mail in January 2007 to file a 2007-2008 "Renewal FAFSA."
SOMETIMES REFERRED TO as the "Ritalin Generation," today's college students are familiar with drugs prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and their effects. Students diagnosed with attention disorders in the 1990s are now in college, bringing their prescriptions and their medications with them. Driven to succeed and experiencing the pressures of college, some students are ready and willing to try a "legal" prescription drug-one they perceive to be "safe"-as a study aid, even though use of prescription drugs without a prescription is illegal and potentially harmful to their health. The impacts on college campuses nationwide include pressure on students with legal and legitimate prescriptions to share their medications with other students; fabrication of ADD or ADHD symptoms by students to gain "legitimate" prescriptions; and for some students, abuse that leads to harmful side effects and even addiction.
UCSB is educating students about the dangers of "study drugs" in a variety of ways. For example, drop-in sessions are offered at Student Health where students can obtain information and ask questions in a confidential and non-judgmental environment. Disabled Students program and the Alcohol and Drug Program also offer support and guidance to students who have legitimate prescriptions to treat ADD/ADHD and are being approached to sell or share their medication with other students. In addition, stringent protocols have been established for doctors and nurses at Student Health who are in a position to prescribe medications that can be misused or abused by students.
As a parent, you can initiate a discussion with your son or daughter about how he or she is managing the academic load and inherent stresses of college life. Find out how your son or daughter feels about students who use "study drugs" to enhance their academic performance, and spend time discussing the medical and legal risks and the social implications of such behavior. If you or your son or daughter have any questions about study drugs, please call the Alcohol and Drug Program at Student Health at (805) 893-5013 or visit the Web site at http://alcohol.sa.ucsb.edu.
AS A PARENT, you have the advantage of knowing what your son's or daughter's typical behavior looks like; therefore, you can more easily identify when it may be changing for the worse. At times it may be up to you to recognize the severity of an issue or problem facing your student. If your son or daughter is struggling, you may need to ensure that he or she gets the proper intervention and care.
Warning signs of distress include changes in behavior, appearance and/or personality. Has your son or daughter lost interest in regular activities, relationships, or classes? Is he or she not sleeping enough or sleeping too much? Have you noticed weight gain or loss that seems out of the ordinary? Does your son or daughter miss classes on a regular basis?
College can be the time for some normal withdrawal from family and friends. However, if this withdrawal is accompanied by a low or sad mood, or if answers to the above questions are concerning, there may be a serious problem that warrants your son or daughter talking with a health professional.
It is important to take your student's problems and concerns seriously, but also to allow them to handle more manageable situations on their own. Focus on communication rather than control. Be aware of the warning signs discussed above, and take action if you feel that your student is in danger. Short term counseling interventions are available on campus for students who are experiencing distress, and UCSB's staff psychologists often work closely with other professionals in the Division of Student Affairs to help students succeed in their college experience.
Counseling Services' stress management resources are designed to help prevent normal college stressors from becoming overwhelming. It's never too soon to recommend that your son or daughter take advantage of these services which include relaxation chairs and massage and relaxation workshops. More information about Counseling Services is available at www.counseling.ucsb.edu.