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Mental Health Issue 2023: Brains at Berkeley

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As the number one public university in the country, UC Berkeley is prized for its brainpower. But how often do we, as Berkeley students, take care of our brains? 

With the great misnomer that is “midterm season,” the semester has no shortage of exams, papers and the dreaded group project. Often, it can be difficult to step outside of it all and take care of ourselves. As we observe World Mental Health Day this week, it’s important to think about the ways we can prioritize our mental and emotional well-being, not just our academic and professional success.

For some, mindfulness is found in the practice of yoga, breathing through a series of postures. For others, journaling provides a creative and cathartic outlet to unwind after a long day. Sometimes, we don’t need to attach happiness to anything specific at all — we can find it in the small, serendipitous moments of daily life.

Through this Mental Health Special Issue, we hope you find at least brief solace outside the stress of attending UC Berkeley. Read how students prioritize their emotional well-being or learn about how psychedelics can be used in therapeutic settings. Interested in animal therapy? Discover how various organizations are making it available to students on campus!

Through it all, we want readers to know that they’re not alone. There are thousands of brains at Berkeley, and we’re all learning to take care of them in our own unique ways.

— Lauren Harvey and Maya Jimenez

Photo Essay: Happiness is…

Photo of a vase of flowers during sunset.

This photo essay displays happiness captured in our daily lives. To the Daily Cal Photo Department, happiness is…

— Daily Cal Photo Department

Paws for Mental Health club alleviates students’ stress through canine support

Photo of the Paws for Mental Health club.

In a competitive academic environment, sometimes the only type of understanding one needs is that of unwavering comfort. PMH is just one of the mental health support resources on campus for students, and one that provides convenient, unconditional support.

— Claire Roach

Pawsitive thoughts: Therapy animals we adore

Photo of a dog with a backpack on.

This photo essay honors the ones who bring us those big smiles — the furry companions that effortlessly evoke joy and pawsitive thoughts, regardless of the circumstances. 

— Adriana Temprano

‘Share llama love’: Fluffy creatures provide therapy for students

Photo of a llama.

Llama therapy is brought to campus to alleviate students’ stress and utilize the benefits of these fluffy creatures.

— Kelcie Lee

‘Destress using art’: Art and Mind club provides art therapy for students at UC Berkeley

Photo of painting supplies.

Art and Mind club hosts events to help students destress and create artwork. The club promotes positive messages about processing emotions and managing stress through the usage of art therapy and mindfulness techniques.

— Kyle Garcia Takata

Campus DeCal ‘Step Out of Overdrive’ strives to help students maintain their mental wellness

Photo of a computer with the DeCal website open.

Now that midterm season is in session, it can be hard to find time to prioritize your mental health. It’s easy to forget to incorporate self-care mechanisms as part of your daily routine. Luckily, there is a DeCal available on campus where students can take some designated time out of their day to take care of their mental health. 

— Emewodesh Eshete

Journaling to de-stress, vent without an audience

Photo of a journal next pens, markers and washi tape.

No matter your topic, you have ultimate control over your journal. You can vent, gossip, scheme, shout, admire or assert — it all begins with your self-analysis.

— Ethan Kim

Placing an ’emphasis on the good’: How I enhanced my perspective on life

Mug of Ella Bohmann Farrell.

Whether it’s a bothersome, distracting ad that pops up mid-Netflix binge or I spill my coffee all over my new shirt, it remains my choice as to whether I react with frustration. And now, I simply choose not to.

— Ella Bohmann Farrell

Ways I’ve improved my mental health through music and exercise

Self Care, Infographic by Sunyu Jung

Through personal experiences, I’ve found that music and exercise have benefitted my mental health. Here’s some activities involving music and exercise that are worth a try!

— Caitlin Wang

The best outdoor relaxation spots on campus

Photo of pathway to Anthony Hall

The UC Berkeley campus has many different outdoor relaxation spots, some hidden and some in plain sight, that one can use to rest and relax.

— Daphne Mullen

How yoga taught me to live in my body

Mug of Madison Creekbaum.

As my yoga practice emphasized breathwork and meditation throughout the series of poses, I learned how to disconnect thoughts from feelings.

— Madison Creekbaum

 How to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life

Mindfulness, Illustration by Karissa Ho

In the midst of our chaotic lives, mindfulness offers a chance to truly connect with yourself and the present. Explore these five ways you can practice mindfulness in your daily routine.

— Clarissa Arceo

‘Filled with promise’: UC Berkeley academic center promotes use of psychedelics in therapy

Photo of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute.

 Robbins described psychedelic treatment as more than “just taking a substance” and instead a structured process in which therapists help participants explore their psyche and apply their experiences to daily life.

— Matthew Yoshimoto

We have been beautiful friends

Mug of Miriam Klaczynska.

I am a fixer, incapable of accepting the idea that there were things broken past repair. All my life, I have always wondered when the answer to saving the environment will come, but I never considered phrasing the thought as an if.

— Miriam Klaczynska

5 must-watch movies that tackle mental health

Photo of a person watching a movie.

If you ever need to shed a tear or are in need of a new comfort character, give these movies a watch. They may be fictional, but they do a great job of telling meaningful stories and convey what it’s like to live with a mental illness or struggle with mental health. 

— Sophie Ward

Remembering the snot: Finding friends freshman year

Walking up to random people and asking “Do you wanna be my friend?” isn’t very successful as an adult.

— Eleanor Jonas

a moment alone

Alone Calm, Illustrated by Cecil Dean

i need to know that i can sit with myself / and be happy

— Gavin McAlpin

Contact Lauren Harvey at 


OCTOBER 16, 2023