Photo Credits: Timothy Li / Aggie File. Aggie Compass of the Basic Needs Center in the MU at UC Davis.
Basic Needs Committee plans for mental health training, orientation videos
When students sign in to Canvas, they are now able to access mental health resources as easily as their grades and assignments. ASUCD Vice President Shreya Deshpande, alongside Emilia George, the mental well-being health promotion specialist at Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS), picked up and completed the project to change the language of the red resources box on the Canvas homepage and make mental health resources more accessible to students.
Previously, the resources box stated, “Are you in distress?” accompanied by the phone number to the UC Davis Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs (OSSJA) and 911 for emergencies.
“The number on the box before was super outdated and didn’t even direct to the right number,” Deshpande said. “The slogan was also really awful and confusing, so students didn’t know if they could utilize the resource or if it was even meant for them.”
Deshpande explained that the project idea was originally introduced by the Student Mental Health Coalition during the 2016-17 school year, but was not followed through. They revisited the project at the beginning of Fall Quarter 2019 and wanted to change the term “in distress” and the resources previously used in the Canvas resource box to a more comforting slogan to encompass general well-being.
“The red box that was on Canvas prior to the changes that Shreya and I made had some language around supporting distress, but it was specific around distress,” George said. “We thought that the language could be better worded to resonate with the larger student community so that any student that needs support, may be in a crisis, or just needs to get help – whatever that means for them – can have really great resources at their fingertips.”
George and Deshpande drafted the new resource box to include the slogan, “It’s ok to not be ok.” Along with the original resource box’s original phone numbers to OSSJA and 911, the new resource box also includes resources for immediate crisis support with the Crisis Text Line and clickable links to the SHCS and Aggie Compass at the Basic Needs Center.
“There are so many factors that go into mental health like food insecurity, housing insecurity, financial well-being and just basic needs overall,” Deshpande said. “We wanted to make the box clickable and have it link to the landing page for Aggie Compass which has all of those resources and is a good central site.”
Deshpande mentioned that they are working to implement the new resource box to the Canvas mobile version as well.
George, who is also part of UC Davis’ Basic Needs Advisory Committee along with Deshpande, outlined the committee’s future plans to increase awareness about student resources, such as a UC Davis mental health training to supplement the two other trainings regarding mental health offered on campus — Suicide Prevention/QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) Training and Mental Health First Aid Training.
“The hope is to create a UC Davis mental health training to talk about our counseling services, our [Community Advising Network] program, and all the great resources that are available on and off campus,” George said.
Additionally, Deshpande addressed their plans to create a film series addressing mental health with the Basic Needs Advisory Committee’s Mental Wellness team to be shown at orientation.
“We’re planning to make three short clips that follow a student’s journey and talk about three main aspects of mental health including dealing with stress and anxiety, coping with a lack of belonging and finding a sense of community on campus, then general well-being,” Deshpande said.
Deshpande and the Basic Needs Advisory Committee plan to continue advocating for mental health awareness and overall wellness resources for students on campus.
Written by: Graschelle Fariñas Hipolito — firstname.lastname@example.org