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Anyone who feels the need for support is encouraged to call Counseling and Psychological Services on campus at (831) 459-2628.

Same-day appointments are available.

February 22, 1999

Feeling stress? Counseling and Psychological Services can help you cope

By Jennifer McNulty

If your parents didn't talk about stress when they told you the facts of life, you didn't get the whole story, says Max Camarillo, a counseling psychologist on campus.

Stress, it turns out, is often misunderstood, with many people assuming that having stressful lives is a bad thing. Not so, he said.

"Stress is a given," said Camarillo. "It's really not stress that's the problem. It's how you cope with it. If you cope well, you're able to meet the challenges of life, and if you don't, you experience distress."

Common sources of stress include personal, academic, social, and family concerns.

Fortunately for students, faculty, and staff on campus, UCSC offers a range of support services to help individuals cope with stress. From same-day crisis support to individual counseling and ongoing support groups, dedicated professionals have designed an array of offerings to meet the needs of the diverse campus community.

In general, sources of stress can be internal, environmental, or social/organizational, said Camarillo. Internal stress is most common among those who place high demands on themselves or have a tendency toward perfectionism, he said. Environmental sources include the weather--cold, windy days are more physically stressful than warm weather, he noted. At the university, organizational demands are ever-present for students, faculty, and staff.

But experiencing stress is not a sign that we should head for the nearest mountaintop and pursue a life of solitude, said Camarillo.

"Stress is part of life," he said. "It happens from the minute we're born. What matters is how we deal with it."

Stress-related symptoms include tension headaches, muscular tension, stomach problems, anxiety, and depression, said Camarillo. Signs of depression include an inability to concentrate, loss or change of appetite, changes in sleep patterns, and illness, such as frequent viruses that may indicate a stress-suppressed immune system.

Student life can be very stressful, according to Camarillo.

"Our students are having to deal with a lot more than my generation did when we were in school," said Camarillo, who is 57. "It's much more competitive today, with the pressures of the world economy. Students are experiencing a lot of concerns about their futures and their ability to support themselves."

For faculty or staff members who may be concerned about the well-being of a student, Camarillo offered these thoughts:

Resources for the campus community are coordinated by Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), which is located in the Cowell Student Health Center. The office is funded by student registration fees and provides support primarily for students, although crisis support is available for faculty and staff.

CPS offers short-term individual, couples, and family counseling, as well as support groups on issues such as depression, eating disorders, life transitions, sexual maltreatment, and the experiences of students of color. The Stress Reduction Clinic offers relaxation training, including guided visualization, meditation, and biofeedback. Workshops are offered on subjects that include academic skills, interpersonal communication, sexuality, and parenting.

The CPS staff includes psychologists at each college, as well as predoctoral interns who also counsel clients. Campus psychologists come from a range of backgrounds and have numerous interests. Profiles are available on the World Wide Web. Counselors also make referrals for those who seek longer-term support from community caregivers.

CPS's Consulting and Outreach Services provides training to groups of ten or more in areas such as crisis intervention, conflict resolution, organizational development, and staff communication. Workshops cover subjects such as homophobia, stress reduction, sexism, and academic skills. Top priority is given to students and staff members who work closely with students, but services are available to others on campus on a recharge basis.

Learning to manage stress is essential, said Camarillo, who has witnessed the power of stress reduction to transform lives.

For more detailed information about the services that are available to the campus community, call CPS at (831) 459-2628.
For faculty and staff, the Employee Assistance Program provides a range of services that includes counseling, legal support, and drug and alcohol assistance programs at 1-800-654-6717.
Suicide Prevention Service of Santa Cruz County operates a 24-hour crisis line at 458-5300 or 688-1818. In addition, Santa Cruz County Mental Health Services offers crisis support after 5 p.m. and on weekends at 462-7644.

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