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Putting Your Brain First: 5 Mental Health Student Organizations at UCLA

The beginning of another school year brings opportunities for students to get involved with new or different clubs and organizations on campus. UCLA is home to more than 1,000 student groups spanning a wide variety of topics from healthcare to soccer to fashion, so there’s a club for you on campus no matter your interests!

If mental health is one of your passions, there are many groups you can get involved with on campus. Check out this list of student groups and join one that will help you take care of your own mental health while helping others with theirs!

1) Yoga for Flexible Futures is a nonprofit organization that teaches the importance of yoga and nutrition to kids. The health benefits of yoga include increased body awareness; stress reliefreduced incidence of anxiety, depression, and insomnia; and even more. Once every week, Yoga for Flexible Futures members visit the UCLA Community School (a public K-12 school partnered with UCLA that strives to teach students to be multicultural, active participants in society) to teach a yoga class that is specifically designed to capture children’s attention. The classes always revolve around a fun theme (like under the sea or Halloween) and incorporate traditional yoga poses into a unique learning experience. The club also spreads the health benefits of yoga on UCLA’s campus by collaborating with other student groups to lead adult classes. New member training, which will be held on October 2nd, will certify incoming members to teach children’s yoga and allow them to instruct classes throughout the year with the club. Check out their Facebook page to apply now and for more information.

2) Active Minds is a national organization that aims to change the conversation surrounding mental health by teaching students the importance of advocating for mental health and working to fight the stigmas associated with mental health. UCLA’s chapter is actually the biggest Active Minds chapter in the entire country! The organization aims to change the way people view mental health by helping everyone realize that mental health is a shared aspect of life we all need to do our best to take care of. The group hosts workshops, events, and educational opportunities to better support those who need help improving their mental health. Check out their Facebook page for upcoming events and for their Fall application. Also, check out the All of Us campaign that recently merged with Active Minds and is now its own committee under the group. All of Us is a campaign that stresses that while not every individual has a mental illness, every individual has mental health that must be proactively cared for. The campaign aims to break the stigma surrounding mental health by holding educational programs, workshops, and events created to educate the community on the importance of seeking help before concerns with mental health become crises.

3) Bridging Minds Through Art, affiliated with the Painted Brain, is a student group that was created to bring people within UCLA’s mental health community together through the use of artistic expression. The Painted Brain is a nonprofit organization that uses art to bridge the gap between those struggling with mental heath and those who are not through collaborations, a magazine, and vocalized story sharing. Bridging Minds Through Art is made up of artists, poets, musicians, writers, and others who are interested in art that all work together to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. The organization allows people who are struggling with poor mental health to collaborate with others from all backgrounds to create art pieces that reflect what it’s like to live with their mental health struggles. Creative expression is the driving force for this organization in developing a positive community through hosting events at colleges, high schools, and several other locations that mix art and mental health awareness/expression. Get involved by visiting the Painted Brain’s nearby community center (open to anyone with a passion for art), contributing an art piece to be displayed during a showcase, or taking one of the coding workshops offered by the organization.

4) Autism Speaks U at University of California, Los Angeles is a campus chapter furthering the work of the organization Autism Speaks. The organization engages college campuses and local communities to help all of those affected by Autism. The UCLA chapter desires to change the future set for all individuals struggling with any version of Autism. In particular, the club is interested in funding research about the causes of Autism, methods of prevention, and treatments; raising awareness about the disorder; and understanding its effect on individuals, families, and society. Check out the club’s Facebook page for more information and get involved by participating in events like Walk Now for Autism Speaks, the Los Angeles Racket Run by ACEing Autism, and more.

5) Falun Dafa at UCLA is a student organization and Qigong group that offers free meditation. Millions of people all over the world participate in the traditional, high-level Chinese practice involving the use of posture, breathing techniques, and mental focus. The club promotes the meditative art by teaching it to others and also promotes overall social well-being. The practice of meditation has numerous mental health benefits: reducing negative emotions; building skills to manage stress; increasing self-awareness; reducing pain, high blood pressure, and insomnia; and combatting anxiety and depression.  Check out the club’s Facebook page for more information about this specific practice of meditation and upcoming events.

The new school year may have just begun, but it is never too soon or too late to get involved with groups that can help to keep you mentally healthy and happy or to encourage your peers to adopt healthy habits. Check out these organizations for yourselves and see if any of them are a good fit for your own personality and individual mental health needs. Don’t see your favorite mental health club on here? Comment and share your feedback online to connect others with great opportunities to get involved with mental health around campus.

Aubrey Freitas is an undergraduate student at UCLA double majoring in English Literature and Psychology with a minor in Italian. She is a blogger for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative in the Mind Well section, which focuses on the importance of mindfulness and mental health. Aubrey is the founder of the organization Warm Hearts to Warm Hands, which teaches the skill of knitting to people of the community in return for their donation of an article of clothing they create with the skill, to be given to local homeless shelters.

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