Q & A with Wellness Worker Lauren Rocha


Compiled by Andrew Zhao

The Oracle: You work in the wellness center. What is your position and what do you do in that position?

Lauren Rocha: My title is called the Wellness outreach worker, and my job is to welcome everyone when they walk in and help them figure out why there are here. I also help put on the events and activities we put outside of the wellness center. For example,we will be doing suicide prevention activities in September. Other events we hold include back to school night events and stress reduction events during finals week.

TO: What general advice would you give on how to take care of themselves in light of the recent tragedy?

LR: My first piece of advice is to know that there are people on campus that are willing to listen and support their feelings. It’s ok to feel a lot of different ways and each day one can feel lots of emotions. It’s ok to feel these emotions as they are complicated. If people don’t want to talk in person, they can contact some crisis numbers.

TO: Are there any small steps one can take to alleviate stress, depression, etc?

LR: It is best to address concerns early on, as mentioned above. Treat mental illness as a physical illness. If your body is sick, you don’t wait until a week later to go to the doctor. The same principle applies to mental illness. If you are constantly feeling anxious or down, you should see a counselor before something more severe happens.

TO: What are some steps people can do to reach out for help?

LR: Ask a friend to go with you if you are scared to reach out. A friend can walk you to counseling of wellness center. Think about mental health care as physical health. If your stomach is sick go see the doctor, and mental care health can be the same.

TO: How should students get adequate sleep?

LR: An important tip for better sleep is to set an evening routine:  you should stick to that certain routine. Limiting screen time is also a big deal. Scientific research shows that electronics make people stay awake. Therefore, people should cell phones hour before sleep tells your brain that you are going to bed. If you have a hard time falling asleep: meditation apps, playlists that have quiet meditation.  Also limit the amount of naps. If you take a 3 hour nap in the day, it’s going to be hard to sleep at night.

TO: How should students build resiliency?

LR: When there are tough times, it can be challenging to see beyond that moment. However, you should recognize that the challenges you are facing are temporary: there is hope in the long run. Try to turn your challenges into successes.

TO: How can I help a friend that is struggling?

LR: Be present and be there for your friend and take time to listen. When your friend is comfortable to share with you, let the friend know that you’re here for him/her and ask them if it would be beneficial to talk with a counselor. A friend can always come with someone seeking help to the wellness center and a guidance counselor.

TO: Is the counseling service confidential? If I reach out, who will know?

LR: All of the Wellness center’s services are confidential. We only notify outsiders for 3 things: harming yourself, harming another person, harming an elder. Students check in here so that they let the teacher know they are in the counseling center. The check-in does not say what student is doing. Only counselor and person meeting the counselor knows about the meeting.

We also require parental consent: the student’s parents sign a form stating that student can use wellness center resources. However, the form does not disclose any other information.

TO: What types of services does the Wellness center provide for students seeking help?

LR: There are a wide variety of activities. Students can come into here for healthy snacks such as fruit or seaweed. They can have a break here while sipping tea. Students also have an opportunity to chat with the counselors. There are 3 CASSY (Counseling And Support Services for Youth) therapists, who provide general counseling from anything from stress anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts. The counselors can refer to outside mental health facilities if required.There is a Stanford Fellow on Fridays named Emily who is studying to be a child psychiatrist. Finally, students participating with wellness events can come chat with me to help with them.

TO: Are there any steps the school is taking to promote wellness in the future?

Something that we are going to focus on this year is to use the Student Wellness community to promote wellness. We listen to the students for any new ideas regarding wellness. Last year, the student wellness committee helped separate wellness clubs such as ROCK and GSA collaborate together. Specific activities we have held include having stress-less events during finals as well as advocating for therapy puppies.