Name: Mary Gao

School: New York University

Year: Freshmen

Major: Business and political economy

Fav thing about your campus: there’s never a dull moment in Greenwhich village

Dream Job: CEO of a social venture


What is your connection to mental illness? 

I was educated about mental illness, but to an extent I used to believe it was something an arms length away from me; I believed it existed, but that it would never touch my life personally. That illusion has been shattered over the past few years. I’ve watched the lives of people closest to me torn apart due to extreme anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, and the list goes on. I now understand how someone can look healthy but be suffering to the point where everyday actions are impossible. It’s crippling, and it’s unfair. I think compassion and empathy are the most important traits that we have, and to raise awareness about mental illness is to lend a kind and open heart to something that truly hurts so many. 

How do you deal with stress from school? 

My mental and physical health is always my first priority. It’s simply too hard to deal with the stresses of school if you are lacking sleep, or you are unhealthy. Ensuring that I sleep enough hours each night, exercise and stay fit, and taking time off whenever needed is the foundation of my life. We are pushed and pulled by a lot of external pressures so I think it’s vital to be able to find a sort of inner peace. Take the time to be silent, be thoughtful, and check in with yourself frequently. 

What does your campus do to help students' mental health? 

On campus, there are many resources for mental health. To begin with, there’s an entire department dedicated to wellness (I work there!). They host fun events, educational talks, and have lots of resources. In addition, there’s multiple types of counseling, for example weekly group counseling or individual counseling with psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, etc. that are of different rationalities, races, and genders with a range of specialties. And all of this is for free. There is also a club dedicated to mental health called Active Minds but beyond that, almost every club attempts to keep wellness in mind as good practice. 

Do you have any school year self care tips to share with other students? 

* Seek silence, it breeds reflection 

* Don’t be afraid to drop everything and leave it if you need to for a while 

* Find good people 

* Don’t skimp on sleep 

* Always remember that you are beautiful, you are capable, and you are worthy of love

Name:  Anna Hall 

School: Brigham Young University

Year: Freshman

Major: Psychology

Fav thing about your campus: Sometimes the bell tower plays Disney music. It's amazing. Also, BYU's creamery ice cream is literally legendary. Google it if you want proof.

Dream Job: Clinical psychologist in the US Army


What is your connection to mental illness? 

I've been diagnosed with depression three times by three different therapists since the age of 14, and then several forms of anxiety when I was 15, with some other little things scattered here and there, but I know I've lived with it much longer. In the fifth grade I cried because I had to make a phone call and I was so scared, and loneliness was always a part of my childhood. Being at BYU, it's a whole different story. 

At BYU, most everyone here is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon Church. Within our faith, there is an enormous pressure to be the “light in the dark room” and the good example to others, and those things are talked about at least on a weekly basis. I’ve been told that something about my presence shines bright, but never have I felt like it. Because of the illnesses I struggle with, I constantly feel like I am never good enough for the Mormon world. At BYU, to hear of someone struggling with a mental illness is rare, unheard of, even, but the statistics for the Mormons are no different than the rest of the world: 1 in 5 people live with mental illness. The stigma around illness is increased here because of the happy and bright personas we are expected to vibe with. I cannot describe how difficult it has been for me, after leaving church after only the first hour, to have people ask me later that evening “Where did you go?” and “Why weren’t you in church?” and to have to simply say, “I didn’t feel good,” and smile as if I feel magically better now. 

The stigma here is increased, and I am someone who feels that affect. I cannot comfortably go to someone, even someone I trust, and say, “I’m having a really hard day because of my anxiety, can you help me?” because it is too daunting that they will, yes, help, but later they will look at you as a project, or someone they want to “fix” during their time here with you. Maybe they see it as their calling from God, or that this is what they’re here for in this specific semester with me, I really do not know. Whatever the case may be, I do not belong under someone’s guiding watch when I have dealt with my illnesses on my own for years. I am fully capable of being strong on my own, and that's something I'm very proud of. My independence is very important to me.

How do you deal with stress from school?

 I'm going to admit that despite my stubborn independence, I don't do it all by myself--I see a counselor every other Tuesday at 8am. I talk to my roommate and best friend a lot, but I'm used to being on my own, so I don't need to vent very often. Honestly, art is such a refreshing and calming thing to me, whether it's doodling in the margins of my notes, doing my makeup, or allowing myself to get caught up in ballet that day.


What does your campus do to help students' mental health? 

Actually, that's why I wanted to become a CR so badly--all that BYU has is a counseling center (which is AMAZING, I promise), but they don't have any awareness or advocacy or any of that. That's something I've already attempted to get into place through the school, but thus far, I've been unsuccessful. So I'm starting small. I'm only a freshman, and there's an entire Facebook page of other students in my class that I've posted on a few times to attempt to get the word out.


Do you have any school year self-care tips to share with other students? 

Time management is SUCH a big deal that I thought I would never value so much. So is a good playlist (I recommend Disney music). Have something that can bring you a smile to think or talk about all the time, and make lists of things you know that you love and cherish. These things keep you personalized even in your most depersonalized moments. Another thing I love to do--empower yourself! Yes, we all struggle, but we all make it through the day, no matter how hard it is. 24 hours is still only 24 hours, and we all get through all of them. Pat yourself on the back and remember how strong and powerful and amazing you are.

Name: Marcela Farias

School: Carleton University

Year: 4

Major: Neuroscience & Mental Health BSc.

Fav thing about your campus: Our campus is really it’s own little island between the Rideau River and the Rideau Canal which makes it really easy to find a study spot with a gorgeous view. We are also equipped with our own underground tunnel system that connects every building including residences that can be especially helpful when you want to avoid Ottawa’s wintertime brutality or sprint to class a little faster.

Dream Job: I’ve always had a difficult time deciding between a travel related career to feed my wanderlust or a medically related career for my passion to help others so I guess if I were to marry the two I’d be looking to be a travel nurse or maybe an international tour guide/pediatrician (I’ll keep you posted on that one though).


What is your connection to mental illness?

My connection with mental illness is really one that stretches over my entire lifetime. My mom has worked as an Autism Support Worker for twenty-five years that has luckily allowed me to meet many of her clients. As a result, my mom’s career made me realize at a very young age that we are not all entirely the same and that’s something to celebrate rather than fear. On a more personal level, I have depression, generalized and social anxiety, and body dysmorphia all co-existing since I was around the age of thirteen. In terms of my physical health, I also suffer from a disease called ulcerative colitis that I was told by many of my doctors does happen to make me more vulnerable to the mental health disorders I possess. Some days really are harder than others, and through the support of my family and one especially kind psychologist I’m extremely grateful to say more often than not I can usually end every day on top.


How do you deal with stress from school?

I’d like to say that I deal with stress in very productive ways at all times as if every time an important paper deadline creeps up or a midterm is approaching I handle it with poise, grace, and effortless studying. But that’s just not the case. I’ve found what helps me most with dealing with stress from school is to organize and decompress. I tend to set deadlines for myself to keep up with assignments and course material while also remembering to take breaks to spend quality time with my friends and for myself. I have grown to understand that it’s a little impossible to schedule every minute of every hour of your life, and it’s more than okay to give yourself even five extra minutes to listen to your favorite song, clear your head, and start fresh over again.


What does your campus do to help students' mental health?

I’m very proud to be a student at Carleton for the efforts that the university puts into making mental health resource availability really a major priority. Firstly, Carleton’s Health and Counseling office has two specialists, three G.P Psychotherapists, and over ten different counselors available to see students on a drop-in/referral basis as well as a substance abuse program targeted towards alcohol and marijuana usage. Also, Carleton’s Health and Counseling offers a residence only office set aside for short-term counseling with three counselors of its own, an adorable therapy dog named Blue, a wellness space for group therapy, and mental health related workshops.

 If that wasn’t enough, Carleton University’s Student Association (or CUSA) puts on two-weeks of mental health awareness activities and promotion known as “Pop the Stigma” to encourage and educate students on mental health illnesses. Finally, there are several mental health clubs on campus that are actively engaging the Carleton community through all types of events such as the Student Alliance for Mental Health (SAMH) and Carleton’s chapter of


Do you have any school year self care tips to share with other students?
After spending four years in university, I feel like I might be able to give a few pointers that have helped me cope with the demand and change that comes along with this chapter of life.

1. Don’t forget to breathe! After my first appointment ever with my psychologist, I left dumb founded really on one particular point she had made. She had told me that somewhere along the way I had forgotten to breathe properly. At that moment, I laughed the comment off suggesting I must be breathing just fine if I’m sitting in front of her. However, she suggested I try to breathe in from my diaphragm or “belly” without moving my chest while holding the inhale for a few seconds before slowly exhaling for a few seconds. I attempted it and could admit that I felt a bit better after a few times. This point stuck with me and I remind myself very often to take a moment to be aware of my breathing and get it back under control especially before the start of an exam, the start of an assignment, or even checking my grades.

2. Get out of your comfort zone (as comfortably or uncomfortably as you’d like) I have personally found university to be a whirlwind of opportunities and a fantastic time for doing a little “soul-searching”. At first, I can admit I was often too afraid to extend myself to new things and more importantly people so I started slow. I took to volunteering and participating in clubs I found interesting which eventually lead me to the clubs I remain in today and my sorority I so proudly became a part of. I feel that even if you’re afraid to take that initial step, it is often worthwhile but you should keep in mind your level of comfort and start from wherever you are first.

3. Try your best to eat/sleep/repeat It’s cliché, but extremely important to get that beauty rest and eat those veggies! It’s very easy to get into patterns of eating poorly and sleeping poorly, but if you can try little by little to gear towards getting 7-8 hours and opting for something a little healthier it will pay off greatly physically and mentally too.

4. Find your passion When I was growing up, my parents directed a lot of my focus towards academics and I was never really encouraged to look much into different hobbies or sports. This left me to find mine on my own and I’m happy to say I spend a lot of my extra time day dreaming of places I can travel, taking pictures of things I’d really like to remember or share, and watching Netflix (yes it’s a hobby and a lifestyle). These hobbies of mine really let me escape the pressures of school work for some moments and it’s really what has helped me in the great balancing act that is student life.

Name: Paul Barber 

School: Queen’s University 

Year: 4th Year

Major: Biology 

Fav thing about your campus: The spirit and community here is honestly so incredible and gives people such a strong sense of pride to go here. It’s so easy to feel at home and to feel empowered by what you can do with your time at Queen’s. 

Dream Job: Still working it out, but probably working with the healthcare system to improve mental health of healthcare professionals and work on developing more patient-centered care practices 


What is your connection to mental illness? 

My connection with mental illness has been something I’ve still been growing to understand, but it started at a very young age. I dealt with depressive thoughts while growing up and thought this was very much the norm, and it was only when I reached high school that I learned that it wasn’t how everyone thought. 

Fast forward to University and I’ve been making strides in understanding my mental health. I went to my first counselling appointment and although it wasn’t really a great appointment, it was comforting to know that I took the initiative. From there, I just tried to learn more about my mental health and evaluate what parts of my life may be impacting it. I developed a self-care routine and engaged myself in awesome conversations with my friends about the culture around mental health. I feel so incredibly fortunate that many of my friends feel comfortable confiding in me about their mental health, and being a supporter for people’s struggles has been a big part of my connection to mental illness as well. 

How do you deal with stress from school? 

Friends are everything to me and help me so much when I get stressed with school. Just being around people is a huge relief and a great way to destress after a hard day. I also tend to just sit down and organize my day hour by hour to help me feel like I can manage all the work that I may have. A big journey for me has been learning to not base my self-worth off of my grades, and this has been huge in handling my stress as well. I also really use extracurriculars as a way to feel like I’m contributing to others, and this helps me find school rewarding and makes me feel more fulfilled. Outside of that, I just try to have fun each day. I dance in my room to Disney, sing my favourite throwbacks, joke around with my awesome housemates or just chill outside for a brief mental break. 

What does your campus do to help student’s mental health? 

I am super lucky that my campus does SO much to help it’s students with mental health. We have a counselling service on campus (That’s always backed up, but it’s there) and counsellors specifically for some faculties and for first years. Outside of that the students here run a lot of initiatives, whether it be to raise awareness surrounding mental health or just to raise funds for mental health initiatives. One of my favorite places is the Peer Support Centre, which my co-rep Mariana Paz-Soldan is the head manager for (and I’m a coordinator for it!) Although it’s not specifically for mental health, it’s a place where students can go to just talk to a confidential, non-judgmental student volunteer about any difficulties they’re having at the time. Honestly the students at Queen’s are so brave and I’m so honored to be able to work for such an awesome service. I am also super lucky that through working with them, I’ve received training on suicide intervention, sexual assault survivor support and lots of other tips on how to help my friends. 

Do you have any school year self-care tips for other students? 

Find something that you love to do and schedule it in each week! Force yourself to commit to it no matter how busy you are. For me this is photography, I love just taking fun pictures of people and capturing their moments of happiness. 

Also work on practicing self-care proactively, it took me too long to start doing this. It can be helpful to do after you get stressed, but actual scheduling self-care into your weekly schedule can do huge strides to stress management! 

I always love finding songs that I really enjoy listening to and building a ‘Feel Good’ playlist, for those busy days when you’re on the go but want a cheer me up. Find whatever works for you (music, food, a picture) that you think can cheer you up when you’re down and keep it in your back pocket ready to help you out when you’re in need! 

My final tip is honestly to plan a random act of kindness each month if you can. Plan some fun way to help either a stranger or a friend and really make their day. Spreading some cheer is one of the best ways to remind yourself that you are far more than your grades.

Name: Olivia Rezac

School: University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Year: Sophomore

Major: Journalism 

Fav thing about your campus: We're located along the Mississippi River and we have campuses in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Best of both worlds :) 

Dream Job: Rescuing donkeys and owning my own Donkey Sanctuary!

What is your connection to mental illness?

I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety in the summer of 2015, although I had been suffering in silence for a little over a year prior to my diagnosis. Like many of the other reps, I have struggled with body image and self-harm since I was a tween! 


How do you deal with stress from school?

I make sure to always put my health first and take breaks when needed. After a long day, I like to light candles in my apartment and make a hot cup of tea. Lately, I've been really into journaling. Writing is an outlet for me that allows me to not only let everything out, but re-read what triggered certain feelings and come up with ideas as to what I can do in the future when those feelings arise. 

What does your campus do to help students' mental health?

1 in 3 students on the U of M campus suffer from a mental illness. Because of this, there are a wide variety of resources available for us students. Free individual and group therapy, PAWS (Petting Away Worry and Stress), and even free yoga!


Do you have any school year self care tips to share with other students?

TAKE YOUR MEDICATION! With the craziness of college life, taking my medication totally slips my mind at times. But when I do take it regularly, I'm a whole different person! Remember to always take time for YOU and your needs. Go for a walk, sing in the shower, do anything that makes you happy. 


Name: Mariana (or Mar for short) 

School: I go to Queen’s University (In Kingston, Ontario) 

Year: 4th year! 

Major: I’m a Global Development major with a Political Science Minor 

Fav thing about your campus: Cheesy as it sounds, but the community at Queen’s is my favorite part about my school. The people I have met here have impacted my life in more ways than one. People genuinely love this school. The campus is also beautiful and so full of life all the time—it’s hard not to love it. 

Dream Job: My dream is to be social support worker. Nothing makes me happier than connecting and working with others! 


What is your connection to mental illness? 

Self reminder: My anxiety isn’t who I am. My name is Mar, I love to dance, sing, read, write, crochet, and be with my friends. I am caring, empathetic and kind. These are things that I am. My GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) is something that affects who I am. My anxiety isn’t who I am. 

My entire life I have struggled with the idea of being perfect. A lot of my stress growing up surrounded the idea of not being good enough for people. I held myself (and still do) to sometimes-impossible standards. On top of that, I’ve always worried about things that are out of my control. Perfection and my tendency to worry have always been a part of my life, and to be honest, seemed quite normal until I came to University. 

In my second year of University, something happened that finally proved to me that I wasn’t perfect. I was so embarrassed, and I couldn’t stop worrying about all the people I had let down. I felt so isolated and alone…even though I had so many people around me who cared. 

I got diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (and Depression as a side effect of my anxiety) in second year. I wasn’t really ready for this diagnosis when I got it—and it took me a long time to accept that anxiety is something that affects who I am. My anxiety isn’t who I am. 

I think mental health and illness are so important to talk about. I feel so blessed to have found Wear Your Label (in my second year of University lol) and to now be a Campus Representative for them. They were (and continue to be) a huge part of accepting my diagnosis and being at home in my own mind. They taught me that It’s okay to not be okay—and it really is. You are not your mental illness, it is a part of who you are and who you are is beautiful and enough. 



How do you deal with stress from school? 

School can be really hard sometimes—as a fourth year student, I totally empathize with the academic #struggz. When I’m having a hard time at school (due to academics or my personal life) I love to play my ukulele. Singing and writing have recently become a huge part of my self-care routine. I also love walking around Kingston and admiring how beautiful this city is—Kingston in the Fall is a magical place. 

My absolute favorite thing to do is be with my friends. I have the most amazing and supportive friends that I am so grateful for. I don’t tell them often enough—but being around them always makes me feel better. 

I think it is so important to take time to find a self-care routine that works for you. Take time for yourself for at least 30 minutes a day and be kind to yourself—you deserve it <3 


What does your campus do to help students' mental health? 

I am lucky enough to work for the Peer Support Centre at Queen’s. The Peer Support Centre is a peer-to-peer, drop in, non-judgmental, and confidential safe space where students can come in to talk about whatever may be on their minds. From mental health, to relationships to academics—the Peer Support Centre has got your back. 

I went there in my second year seeking support—and the experience changed my entire life. Another student, someone I didn’t even know, was telling me it was okay to be sad and I deserved to feel better. They encouraged me to go see a counselor (someone I still see today and love), and it’s one of the reasons I have made so much progress. 

Since then, I have been a volunteer and am also working there this year on the Management Team. It has been the most magical experience of my life. I have met some of my best friends through this service. It is a community of support and genuine empathy—where students care about how other students are feeling and want to help. 



Do you have any school year self care tips to share with other students? 

It is so important to identify people in your life who can be, what I call your “safe people”. Safe people are those friends who are willing to be your sounding board, those who can help you when you are struggling, and those who can hug you when you need it. Above all else, your safe people are people who make you feel comfortable and at home with yourself. Trust me when I say, that there are people around you who are willing and want to be those people for you. I know it can be really hard when you feel isolated, but please reach out if you need someone—whether that is a friend, counselor, family member, or even me through this blog post. I care about you! 

Take time to figure out things that you LOVE to do and do them actively. It is SO okay to have wine with friends and chat about life and call that self care! Just like it is SO okay to cuddle in bed alone with a book and call that self-care. Self-care is personal and unique. Anything you love to do can count as self-care. 

One of my most loved quotes by Tyler Knott Gregson is “I would imagine there are days when Superman wakes up, glances at his cape, and wonders when someone will come save him.” No one can be supportive all the time—and that’s okay. Take your breaks—everyone needs them. 

The big message is--I care about you, and you are not alone. You are enough, you are more than enough, it is incredible how enough you are. 

Thanks for wearing your label with me <3 


Gena Crépault

University of British Columbia


Major: Psychology, with a minor in Commerce

Fav thing about your campus: The physical beauty of it. No matter where you are, you can usually catch a glimpse of the mountains or the ocean.

Dream Job: 

To be determined. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about figuring out what I want to do, but all I know is that I want to work somewhere where I feel empowered; maybe somewhere where I can empower others. I love organizing things, being challenged, and as long as I’m passionate about the work I’m doing, I’ll be happy.


What is your connection to mental illness?

In my second year of university, I overloaded myself. I was in a nearly full course load, held two volunteers positions, and a part time job. I had grown up being the organized one, the overachiever, and I felt like I had to step it up. I knew it was a lot, but I convinced myself that I was going to be able to handle it. I couldn’t. In the spring of that year, I was crying myself to sleep multiple nights a week, drowning in anxiety that I kept to myself. We glorify being stressed and having a lot on our plates, and all my peers saw was another person that was ‘busy’. What they didn’t see was the multiple times I laid awake for hours, almost waking my roommate up to have her take me to the hospital because I couldn’t handle it anymore. I couldn’t handle the barreling thoughts that felt like they were tearing parts of my brain out as they pummeled through, over and over again. I look back to photos of myself from that spring and all I see is the color drained from my face, the huge bags under my eyes, and an obviously empty smile. I wonder how none of the people I was with every single day noticed that I was in so much pain, and that I was struggling. Only a select few friends knew about my anxiety, and to them I’m forever grateful; but I remind myself that a huge part of the problem was my own refusal to reach out.

Today, I’m more open about my anxiety than I ever thought I would be. I don’t want anyone to ever go through the isolation I felt, or the absolute misery of feeling like there’s nothing you can do. I still have bad days. Probably more than I’d like to admit, because again, our society is so set on rewarding those that work the hardest, stay up the latest, do the most. But it’s in moments like these, when I find myself struggling, that I want nothing more than to reach out to people. I want them to know that I feel this way, and it’s okay for them to feel like it too. We’re so prone to isolating ourselves nowadays, when really our response to this kind of emotion should be the opposite. I encourage everyone around me to be more tender, to let themselves feel what they feel, and to give more love to the people around them.

You’d be surprised that the ones you’re least expecting to be struggling are the ones that need it the most.


How do you deal with stress from school? 

Dealing with stress from school is still a work in progress for me, and I’m still learning about what I need. But I used to constantly fight the feeling of “I just want to lie in bed and watch TV”. Now, instead, I schedule a day of the week where I take the evening off and do exactly that. I make myself some tea, put my phone on do not disturb, plug in my fairy lights, and lie in bed and watch TV. I also am very much a fan of going for walks; spending time outside is so underappreciated in university life, because we’re always locked away in libraries, in our rooms sitting at our desks, or in classrooms. I also try to exercise at least 3-4 times a week; a good cardio session can make me feel like I’m running all the stress off.

What does your campus do to help students' mental health? 

Our university has so many resources available to students, whether it’s counseling services, academic help, etc. They try so hard to make students aware of them and I respect that so much. One big initiative they have every year is called Thrive Week, which is an entire week in November dedicated to mental health, and dozens of events are put on that are centered on the theme of Mental Health. There are booths all over campus, and signage that gets you thinking about the topic. It’s an opportunity to engage the whole campus on the topic and approach it openly.


Do you have any school year self care tips to share with other students?

My biggest self care tip is to listen to yourself. You might be so caught up in trying to keep up with everything that you forget to check in and see if you’re doing okay. “Self Care Isn’t Selfish” is also something that I didn’t really understand until lately. You feel guilty saying no to going out with your friends, for deciding to stay in, for picking the choice that you want instead of the one your friends want. But, self-care isn’t selfish. If you want to stay in and study instead of going out because you don’t want to go out and are stressed about homework or exams, then do it. If you want to lie in bed and watch TV instead of go to the movies with people, then do it. If you’d rather go for a walk on your own, do it. Listen to yourself and let yourself do the things that will feel good for you.

Other tips are to take study breaks for food, walks, quick chats with friends; make lists to keep track of things that need to get done, even the little things like washing dishes; if you’re struggling to keep up, reach out to your prof. They’re there to help you, not make life harder. Explain the situation, be polite, and be honest.


Photography: Bronwyn Davies

Name: Jenna Robar

School: York University- Glendon Campus

Year: 3rd

Major: Health and Environmental Studies

Fav thing about your campus: Its beauty, location, and vibe

Dream Job: Naturopathic Doctor, or someone who helps everyday

What is your connection to mental illness? 

I’m still trying to personally figure that one out, to condense it into a sentence. I’ll let ya know when I do ;)

I think it’s kind of mind-blowing to think about how many people are struggling with their mental health, but are so hesitant to talk about it, myself included. I work at my university, and we see and hear about mental illness so often that sometimes it doesn’t even sink in; it’s so common. We all have a connection (or multiple) to mental illness.  

How do you deal with stress from school?

Stress from school sucks- Almost everyone is behind, a hundred due dates are coming up, you’re trying to be social, and healthy, and a good student- there are a lot of expectations! I’m lucky that I’m in the position that I am- I’m a student that gets a lot of support from friends, aggressively-helpful team of coworkers +counselling services; when something is up, there are usually a few people that notice and try to see what’s going on. I deal with school-stress by going outside, listening (performing) to Beyoncé, & by talking to people who ‘get it’. 

What does your campus do to help students' mental health? 

My campus is pretty cool; because it’s so small, the vibe here is really community-orientated. Everyone knows everyone, and if not, we’ve all seen each other plenty of times. For students living on campus, we have a great team of Dons (RAs) who are constantly checking in with students, and making sure everyone’s okay- they’re around for all of the highs and lows. We also have our ‘Centre d’Accessibilité, Bien-être et Counselling’ – they do a great job there. I know that I play a role in Campus-wide mental health, and I’m pretty excited about being a leading Health Educator on campus, as well as a Don of Learning Activities- with other campus-partners, we’re currently working to create the best Mental Health Week ever at our campus (coming in November!). We usually do Stressbusters twice a year, where we bring in therapy dogs, massage students, yoga/Zumba instructors, etc.  

Do you have any school year self care tips to share with other students?

Listen to yourself- you know you better than anyone else. Listen to your body, mind, soul, spirit- whatever you have going on, it’s worth it to be your own best friend. You do not need to ‘go hard’ 24/7- you deserve breaks and breathers. Your grades are not #1, you are- your health and wellbeing is #1, and it always will be. 

Name: Hannah Farrell


School: University of California, Berkeley


Year: Sophomore (Second Year)


Major: Anthropology and Integrative Biology


Favorite thing about your campus: We have a tower on campus called the Campanile and students can go up to the top for free! You can see the entire campus and part of the surrounding areas from the ocean to the hills. It’s a great place where I love to go and remind myself how lucky I am to be where I stand today.


Dream job: If anyone has even seen the T.V. show Bones or read the books by Kathy Reich, I really want to be a forensic anthropologist specializing in the identification of bones. It’s a bit morbid, but to me there would be nothing more satisfying than providing a family with closure after someone has been missing for years.


What is your connection to mental illness?

My connection to mental illness is kind of a complicated one that hits me from all sides. I struggle with depression and anxiety which is quite an interesting combination when you go to the top public university in the US. I have been struggling with these since high school but they have gotten progressively worse as I’ve gotten older and the stresses of my life have gotten more important. I have also been surrounded by addicts my whole life, and I do not mean that in a negative way, I have grown up in a home of recovering drug and narcotic addicts. I grew up going to A.A. meetings and celebrating two birthdays for the majority of my family members. Currently, I am just addicted to fresh bread but I am always aware that the addict gene is a part of me.


How do you deal with stress from school?

I have two favorite methods for dealing with stress from school. The first being that I love to sing it off. Taylor Swift shakes it off and I sing it. I go down into the basement of our music department which holds many practice rooms and I sing and play the piano. I sing country, pop, show-tunes, whatever I feel will help me best to move on from whatever had been bothering me that day/week. My second method has to do with another one of my hobbies on campus. I am a part of a non-profit that braids, bakes, and sells fresh challah bread every week to help end food insecurity on college campuses. I don’t know what it is about braiding bread and making dough, but it is very therapeutic to me to just be able to take an hour out of my day to volunteer and focus on someone else’s needs rather than my own. When I walk out, I feel refreshed and ready to readdress whatever had been stressing me out (and I usually walk out with hot fresh bread in hand so it’s a win-win).


What does your campus do to help students’ mental health?

My campus has a week before finals that we call ‘dead week’ and it’s a week in which there are no classes and you take the time to study and prep for finals. The Associated Students of University of California (ASUC – our student government) put on a week called Bear-able Finals Week (because we’re the bears) and they offer help to students and they have uplifting events across campus like one day they’ll bring in llamas!! Also through the ASUC, there is a mental health carnival put on every semester in order to raise awareness both for the student body and for the services the school offers. One great service that the ASUC is hoping to expand is that every student gets 5 free counseling sessions with our student health center, they are working to raise that number past 5 (even though 5 is a pretty impressive number for a campus with over 30,000 students). I always feel supported here at Cal by their medical team because they are trained in exactly how to address issues of mental health within all communities.


Do you have any school year self-care tips to share with other students?

I’m just gonna throw some out here that I’ve been thinking about recently rapid fire:

  • One midterm score does not reflect you, no matter how you do, you are not dumb. You cannot let one score, two scores, any scores determine your self-worth and how you wake up feeling every day. Nothing should have that much control over you.
  • Please share how you’re feeling with your friends. Even if you don’t like to talk about it, please do. I cannot say how big of a difference it makes to be able to share personal things with your closest friends, and like my mom used to say “the more you talk about something, the less power it holds over you”. It’s very important, especially as a new incoming student, to find your support group.
  •  Take time for you. If you’re stressed out and feel like you could break down in tears at any point (like I felt just a couple weeks ago when preparing for 4 midterms), take an hour or two for you. Find a quiet space a read a little bit of your favorite book, watch an episode of your favorite show, find a grassy spot and meditate for a little while. Take the time for yourself because once you get up from that one to two hours you set aside for yourself, you will be so much more productive and level-headed when preparing for whatever mountain stands in your way this time. 
Marie Bartz

University of California, Berkeley


Psychology Major, Disability Studies Minor

Fav thing about your campus: 
I am humbled by the people I meet here everyday.

Dream Job: 
Working for Marvel Comics/Entertainment

What is your connection to mental illness? 
My primary diagnosis is Major Depressive Disorder, which despite having symptoms of since I was about age 12, I never sought help for until my sophomore year of college. Additionally, this past August, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which was brought on by being sexually assaulted during the fall of my freshman year and being sexually and emotionally abused for a part of my freshman and sophomore years.

How do you deal with stress from school? 
Growing up, I always packed my schedule so full of academic and extracurricular responsibilities that I failed to give myself the opportunity to just take time for myself or even sleep enough. Now I've finally gotten to a place where I understand that mental health comes first, and I'm not going to be able to live and do all those things to my full capacity if I am not taking care of myself. I think it's really important to give myself some "me-time" and to do whatever might increase the probability that I will experience happiness. Sometimes that means hanging out with friends, drinking coffee and reading a book, or even playing a silly game on my phone.
What does your campus do to help students' mental health? 
UC Berkeley offers counseling and psychological services, and there is no charge to get started, regardless of what kind of health insurance you have. On the more fun side, Berkeley will organize "pet hugs," and they will bring a bunch of dogs onto the main plaza for students cuddle with.

Do you have any school year self care tips to share with other students? 
School is important, sure, but when you look back on your college experience years from now, you are not going to remember subpar grade you got in some class. You are going to remember how one time you got lost in playing guitar for a little too long, but you loved every minute of it. You are going to remember spontaneous road trips. You are going to remember the cuddle-and-cry-club sessions you have with your roommate. You are going to remember finding friends who have become your family. I guess my point is that the road to healing may be a long and tumultuous one, but there will be pit stops along the way that will give you the chance to fill yourself up a little bit. Take advantage of it.
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