Weekly wellbeing: how to prioritize your health at CPP

By Victoria Mejicanos, September 5, 2023

As students step onto Cal Poly Pomona’s campus for the first time, they are confronted with unfamiliarity everywhere they turn. To help students navigate a new chapter in their lives, The Poly Post spoke with campus representatives, experts and experienced students about the programs and resources available.

One of the many health services covered in the Student Health Fee is Counseling and Psychological Services or CAPS.

CAPS offer short-term individual or group counseling, crisis intervention and various mental health workshops on campus which can be accessed via myBAR.

Maria Gisela Sanchez Cobo, a CAPS counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist shared the importance of utilizing the resource when needed.

“I think CAPS is important because students coming to the university regardless of their age may experience different factors of stress impacting them that can be connected to their experiences or identities,” Sanchez Cobo said.

She said that juggling multiple experiences can also bring multiple sources of stress, and if left unchecked, will eventually impact a student’s ability to do well academically.

In addition to mental health services, the student health fee also allows students to access low-cost and no -cost services regarding physical health at both the Student Health Center and the Bronco Wellness Center.

According to the Student Health and Wellness Services website, “Wellness Services provides resources and programs dedicated to various health topics including but not limited to nutrition, sexual health, mental health, physical activity, sleep and stress management.”

The Student Health Center provides medical exams, pharmacy services, immunizations and STI testing.

If students are having difficulty navigating resources but know they need support, Sanchez Cobo suggests meeting with a case manager at the Bronco Care Center.

“That initial point of contact with a case manager there may help the student clarify what they may be needing,” she said. “The Cares Center has other resources as well and may be able to help the student navigate other sources of support.”

Tianna Faye Soto, an expert in psychology and a health and wellness journalist, spoke on the changes students may be navigating are as simple as learning how to be self-sufficient.

“Sometimes it’s hard to leave home. Or for a lot of folks, especially first-generation college students, it could be the first time that they’ve left their parents or their family life the first time, and they are moving somewhere new, or having to do their laundry or take care of food for themselves, for the first time,” Soto said.

She shared simple but hard-to-follow advice for students: “Be patient with yourself. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed by all the changes.”

Soto urges students to reach out for support.

“The truth is, when you’re navigating a change, you need support,” she said. Whether it be a mentor, therapist or your professors students lean onto for support, navigating change is possible. Remember, you’re not alone,” Soto said.

Soto shared that although change is inevitable, students can work on their reaction to change. She often tells students to “build a toolbox” or a set of coping strategies and resources that make them happy.

These tools can be a major on-campus resource like a CAPS counselor providing short-term therapy or small actions like petting a dog and making sure to eat before class.

For second year Animal Science student Bella Calles, a combination of big and small actions reduced her anxiety as a first year student. She recalled feeling intimidated when first moving to campus.

“It was nerve-racking. I came here knowing nobody and was away from home, so it was scary,” she said.

However, she said that once she was moved into her dorm and had explored the campus and its resources, she began to feel at home.

“After a little bit I felt very safe, very comfortable. Like I got to know the school, and I felt like I was okay,” Calles said.

She shared that she found comfort in the different cultural and resource centers, which allowed her to better navigate campus.

Aside from cultural centers, Calles interacts with various animals on campus.

“I love animals, so I enjoy going to the different animal units we have on campus and cleaning their kennels. And getting into that made me feel a little more at home maybe when I wasn’t in the mood to be with people,” she said.

She explained that there are classes and volunteer opportunities available to all students to interact with animals on campus. In October, during the annual Pumpkin Fest, students can volunteer at the petting zoo. The Arabian Horse Center also encourages students to volunteer and interact with award winning horses. If farm animals aren’t appealing to students, the University Library has therapy dogs on campus multiple times a semester.

At CPP, there are clubs and spaces for all students to explore their interests. From Folklorico to hip-hop to archery, there are new ways to lean into interests new and old. If students cannot find a club or organization that interests them, they can always make their own.

Navigating a new phase of adulthood is bound to bring anxiety, but all the resources on campus can help mitigate them. Whether it be petting a horse, visiting a counselor or playing in the games room, there is something to help every student to use on campus to prioritize their wellness.

Graphic courtesy of Lauren Wong 

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