Mental Health Support
The Undocumented Student Program is committed to students’ physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.
We believe that the barriers undocumented, first generation, and/or low-income students face helps weave the fabric of their resilience and courage. We also recognize that at times, these experiences and obligations place additional strain that may impact mood, motivation, self-esteem, relationships, and overall well-being. In addition, stress related to xenophobia/racism, deportation fears, finances/ employment, and identity concerns can make it hard to find balance.
Our mental health support program provides a confidential space for undocumented students to be seen by a licensed therapist who will collaborate with them on an individual wellness plan. Support varies by each student’s need including: one-time drop-in consultation, crisis management, on-going sessions, and connection to other campus resources.
Meet the USP Psychologists
Diana Peña (she/they), PhD, is a queer Latinx mental health provider and licensed psychologist who began her academic journey in her hometown of Los Angeles, CA as a first-gen college student. Diana coordinates the mental health program for undocumented students at UC Berkeley, providing counseling support to students and consultation to the campus at large. Her areas of focus include undocumented student mental health, resilience among queer and trans people of color, spirituality, and somatic/body-centered healing practices. Diana stands on the shoulders of her Mexican immigrant parents and is committed to decolonizing mental health practices in the service of undocumented, Indigenous, Black, and POC communities. She invites you to join her on this journey.
Bianca Barrios earned her PhD as a first-generation college student form Washington State University’s Counseling Psychology program. Bianca grew up in Los Angeles County with a mixed status extended family. As a licensed psychologist, her areas of focus include students of color and undocumented/immigrant student college adjustment and persistence, Latinx mental health, LGBTQ affirmative therapy, and women’s concerns. She possesses an unwavering commitment to social justice and advocacy. When working with students she aims to co-create a space built on trust and compassion where students can feel comfortable bringing in all parts of themselves to begin the process of exploration, learning, and healing.
Crisis and Urgent Support:
- If you’re in crisis or your have urgent needs, help is available at the Tang Center on a drop-in basis : Monday – Friday, 10am-5pm.
- For urgent mental Health concerns when CAPS is closed:
- Call the Student After Hours Counseling Line at 855-817-5667
- Find a local emergency room. The closest to campus is Alta Bates Hospital, 2450 Ashby Ave., just east of Telegraph Ave.
- Non-University affiliated crisis/suicide prevention hotlines:
- Crisis Support Services of Alameda County (800) 309-2131
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-TALK (8255)
- Or see more resources on our emergency community page
Information on suicide prevention
Mental health counseling at USP and CAPS is always free. USP supports undocumented students with additional mental health costs, such as:
Psychiatry evaluations, appointments, and labs
Off-campus ADHD assessments
- Psychiatric medications
- Off-campus therapy co-pays: Mental Health Refund Application
People often wonder if their concerns are “big enough” to warrant counseling. The truth is, people talk about many different types of things. See below for some common ones, and if you’re still not sure, come ask!:
discrimination and race-based stress
anxiety (worrying, panic attacks, social, phobias, test anxiety)
stress associated with deportation/family legal status
“coming out” as undocumented
The political climate
questioning or exploring sexual orientation or gender
concerns about family or community
burnout from political/social action
food or body image concerns
coping with chronic illness or being disabled
and many others
Wellness apps and podcasts
- “Just in Case” a UC phone app that connects you to emergency resources and helps you decide when to reach out for help
- Free Guided Meditations: Brief audio files from UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center that you can download. Includes instructional meditation and a meditation for sleep
- Tactical Breather: a free app that many find helpful for panic attacks itunes Link
- Breathe 2 Relax: a free app that provides stress management through breathing itunes Link Google Play Link
Articles and handouts
- Coping with racist and Xenophobic incidents (I’m currently compiling this, stay tuned!)
- Spiritual Wellness
- Social Support
- Self-compassion.org (information, research and exercises by Kristen Neff, Cal alum)
- Sleep Tips
- Time Management
- Concentrating while studying
- Student Learning Center (SLC) Study and Success Strategies
- UC Berkeley: What to expect from counseling: a brief video on common worries about the counseling process