Having too many health and wellness resources to choose from may be a good problem, but sifting through the various campus websites to find what’s right for you can can be difficult. And for someone in crisis, locating the help they need can sometimes be a matter of life and death.
Responding to the challenge, UCLA Student Affairs and other campus partners have launched the Be Well Bruin wellness initiative, which quite literally centers accessible health, mental health and well-being support as part of the student experience.
Be Well Bruin is a new online hub that gathers all of UCLA’s student-centered physical, emotional, social, academic, financial and basic needs resources in one place. With robust search and filtering features, Bruins can articulate their needs and receive personalized responses and resource recommendations. Students can also browse categories, connect with peer advocates and take a stress survey to get real-time assessments of their mental health and treatment options.
The initiative is the brainchild of Monroe Gorden Jr., vice chancellor for student affairs, who has long prioritized student mental health and well-being by supporting efforts like the launch of the Black Bruin Resource Center and the opening of a new basic needs center on campus. Be Well Bruin will join the ranks of these student-centered hubs, and will be managed by UCLA’s RISE Center, an extension of UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS.
At the core of Be Well Bruin is a network of campus partners who act as ambassadors for the wellness or student success programs they represent. A click on the site’s “about” button displays a portrait gallery of these individuals, each photo linking to the person’s bio and a description of how they can best serve students. Nicole Green, senior executive director of UCLA Mental Health Services and the RISE Center, said that removing the degree of separation between the people and the programs they run is a way to better serve Bruins.
Newsroom spoke with Green about why this new entry point into the UCLA resource pool will make a big difference for student well-being.
How did Be Well Bruin come about?
We’ve wanted to do this since we worked with the MindWell part of the Healthy Campus Initiative, at which point people were hearing the same feedback from students that there were too many resources. Students would walk into CAPS overwhelmed with the resource list online and say, “I can’t think of all that right now, just get me to someone who can talk to me face-to-face.” So, we began growing Be Well Bruin in 2017. It hit pause for a year-and-a-half because we were prioritizing other things during the pandemic, but we had it built last year and now it’s come to fruition.
Can you explain more about the site’s mental health assessment survey?
The stress and resilience wellness check, or STAR survey, came from the Depression Grand Challenge, and it’s a really important resource. Students can create a login and then answer questions to get immediate feedback, such as “You’re mildly struggling, but you’re doing fine.” Or, if they score moderate, “We think you should go to CAPS” or “We think you should do this toolkit to learn more about anxiety and depression.” If severe crisis is detected, CAPS will immediately reach out to the student.
What does RISE stand for, and what services does the program offer on campus?
RISE stands for “resilience in your student experience,” and is both an online resource and a physical center located underneath Le Valle Commons. Students should come visit! It’s lovely. We’ve just remodeled it, and it is open for fall. We offer stress management and mindfulness and also do a lot of the training across the campus for faculty on how to support distressed students.
You’ve been serving students at UCLA in the mental health and advocacy space for most of your career. Can you share a little bit about that journey?
I’ve been here about 19 years as a psychologist, and before that as a student. My areas of focus have been around sexual violence, women’s issues, Black psychology and academic success. In 2010, the campus wanted to start a sexual violence program within CAPS, so I oversaw that. Then in 2015, I was asked to step in as an interim executive director of CAPS. I’ve been there ever since and now run everything on the gamut of mental health — from positive mental health and well-being at RISE to the counseling center and a specialized service of sexual violence–prevention advocacy. I also manage our case managers for students in severe crisis.
What’s your hope for Be Well Bruin?
I hope that it gets on all students’ syllabi and that deans link to it on their departmental websites. As RISE trainings happen on campus, we’re going to be plugging Be Well Bruin. Whether you want to have suicide prevention training, a distressed student training or a training on how to support your students in your classroom, Be Well Bruin is here to support.