Resilience on the RISE

Resilience (noun)
re·​sil·​ience | \ ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s
​1)​ The capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress.
2) An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.
– Merriam-Webster Dictionary
As people in and around the university, we all face the trials and tribulations of stress, anxiety, and difficult situations. We can learn to better cope with daily challenges through a practice of resilience that supports our well-being.

The ​Office of Campus and Student Resilience​ and ​Counseling and Psychological Services​ (CAPS) have created a “holistic wellness hub” on campus that provides a variety of programs, classes, trainings, and self-directed resources aimed at creating a greater sense of resilience on campus. This hub is called​ Resilience in the Student Experience​ (RISE) and is located on campus, downstairs at Lu Valle Commons room B-01. RISE serves as a physical extension of CAPS, and as part of its programming, RISE offers meditations, yoga, peer coaching, and other mind-body modalities.


When I say that RISE offers a vast amount of programs and meditations, it’s no understatement. So far in the lineup they have:
  • Yoga as healing – trauma-informed yoga for survivors of sexual assault
  • Weekly drop-in resilience sessions for all
  • Mindful Ambassadors​ meetings
  • Drop-in meditations for post doctoral students
  • Weekly drop-in mindful nutrition for all
  • GRIT coaching​ corner
  • Wazo ​wellness series
  • Mindfulness for women of color
  • Healing expressed with art (HEART) for trauma survivors
  • Weekly drop-in mindful self compassion break
  • Fitwell​ yoga classes.

The RISE schedule is bursting with programs and opportunities that can meet our diverse student body where they are. And there’s no sign of slowing down; Dr. Allyson Pimentel, associate director of UCLA Campus & Student Resilience, tells me, “it’s only going to get better.”


RISE has an upcoming 5 session training series, Training for Campus Peer Leaders, which is geared towards UCLA student leaders looking to learn more about resilience, how to support students in distress, and many other important topics. This workshop will be held every Wednesday from weeks 4-8, with each session lasting two hours. The sessions will be held in the basement level of Lu Valle Commons, room B-01. If interested in this particular workshop, you can learn more and sign up ​here.


Check out the RISE space itself or come participate in some of the upcoming meditation sessions and workshops! For more information email ​RISE@caps.ucla.edu



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 Semel Healthy Campus Initiative Center at UCLA 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.

Rapgay photo

Psychology of Hate

We are experiencing an increasing level of hate in our society.  Hate fuels the cancerous divisiveness and polarization which now infect virtually every part of our lives. This culture of hatred will have serious effects on both our national and individual emotional, psychological, and physical health.   

We cannot be a strong and healthy nation if we consider hate an acceptable aspect of our daily life. Hatred has the destructive power to permanently damage the nation’s emotional psyche and core values.  

History tells us how hate can be exploited to lead an entire nation to commit unspeakable crimes against a particular racial, religious, political, or ideological group.   

It is time to sound the alarm.

The problem is we know very little about the nature and workings of hate and what we as a people can do about it. While anger can be resolved and fades with time, hate at its extreme is an enduring, inflexible state, an all- consuming set of raw emotions.

If hate is left unchecked, it intensifies from intolerance to a wish to annihilate the other. Hate strips us of our humanity. Hate eliminates the ability to show empathic concern for the injustice done to others. Hate numbs the guilt and shame that we should feel for our prejudiced behavior. Most importantly, it eliminates our ability to understand why we feel this hatred and how to eliminate it by addressing the real issues that gave rise to it.

It strikes at the core of our humanity.

People who hate tend to think, feel and behave from an “in-group” versus an “out-group” mentality.  They have no hesitation to stereotype an entire “out-group” (Steward, T. L. et al., 2003). The “ins” use the “outs” as scapegoats for the social, economic, and political woes of the community (Brewer, M., 1999).  The “ins” use this as a way to justify the treatment of the “outs” in a degrading manner and to ostracize the “outs” from the lives and the community of the “ins”. In her blue eyed and brown eyed study, Elliot et al., 2002 showed that when the blue eyed subjects were severely discriminating and degraded them and made to feel like outer groups in society, it was too much for some that they left the study.

The underlying insidious presence of contempt and disgust – a deep dislike for the other who is considered unworthy of respect or attention – appears to play a major role in intensifying fear and anger into a vicious, annihilating feeling of hate. Disgust of another instinctively makes us recoil and distance us from them (Taylor, K, 2007). Contempt is a disdain associated with the other being less worthy and inferior and, therefore, not entitled to certain rights and opportunities that are reserved exclusively for the “ins” (Sternberg, R.J. 2017).   


Extreme hate, unfortunately is deep seated and cannot be easily overcome. For people whose hate is not all-consuming, here are some preliminary steps that might be helpful for decreasing hatred in our lives.

The first step is to understand that hate is extremely destructive, whichever way you cut it, by recognizing the serious threat that hate creates for our personal, communal, and national well-being.   

Next, learn to spot stereotyping, scapegoating, and de-humanizing behavior in ourselves, in others, and in certain leaders, so that we can start challenging such prejudiced verbal and non-verbal behavior.  

The unravelling of the sexual misconduct of Harvey Weinstein has created a collective outrage in society and put in place an entirely new set of norms. The same opportunity exists for us to do this with hatred and hate mongers.   

So, when you find yourself blaming an entire group, challenge that perception by conducting a comprehensive analysis of your behavior. What is the evidence that the “outs” are responsible for a particular situation or for the acts of a few?

While reducing prejudiced behavior is a great start, reduction alone does not prevent such behavior from returning.  The change in our behavior as a society can only be sustained if we challenge the underlying beliefs and assumptions that maintain this toxic behavior.  

Make a list of evidence for and against your own beliefs and assumptions. Based on the conclusion of the analysis, replace your maladaptive beliefs and assumptions with ones that are more realistic and adaptive.      

To go deeper, ask yourself what are the origins of such beliefs? Try recalling the earliest time in your life when you experienced hate towards a significant person?  It won’t take long to figure out how these unprocessed feelings are projected to the out-group.

Now that you know that your beliefs and assumptions about the “outs” may be biased, take concrete steps to re-educate yourself by reading and watching objective based information. Evaluate the issues from the viewpoint of both sides – don’t just listen to what you would like to hear from CNN or Fox alone.

If you want others to hear and to understand your legitimate grievances, you must also understand theirs. Reach out to members on the other side and genuinely listen and try to appreciate their perspective by putting yourself in their shoes. The capacity to do so will allow you to change your beliefs where you are misinformed or wrong.

Each one of us needs to initiate change in our own behavior before we can expect society to change.

In a democratic system such as ours, holding opposing beliefs and views is not the real issue. The problem is intolerance and feelings of outrage at the “outs” with little regard for their rights, which are protected by the constitution – as are your own rights. Our system provides the ballot box, the judiciary, and the legislature, which relatively few nations in the world enjoy, as the final place to settle our concerns and differences.  

It, therefore, behooves us to make a resolution to reclaim our humanity and not allow ourselves to be caught in the whirlwind of hate being spewed in our country.

Lobsang Rapgay, PhD is a Sherpa-Tibetan American and Assistant Adjunct Professor, and researcher in the Department of Psychiatry UCLA. He has a private practice specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders.


How to stay grateful after Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has come and gone; taking with it the feeling of fall coziness and the smell of pumpkin pie, and leaving behind the lure of winter break and an extended vacation. While some families celebrate in the traditional Thanksgiving style, with a roast turkey and everyone listing what they’re thankful for before dinner, others denounce the holiday as a glorification of the abuse of Native Americans. Still others don’t celebrate at all, as Thanksgiving is an American holiday not often observed by UCLA’s international students. Regardless of your opinion on Thanksgiving, it’s worth considering adopting its central theme, thankfulness, as acknowledging your gratitude can be an extremely effective and efficient way to improve your quality of life.

In fact, research shows that reminding yourself of what it is you are grateful for about a loved one has a “uniquely predictive power in relationship promotion, perhaps acting as a booster shot for the relationship.” But gratitude won’t just improve your relationships. It’s also been proven that “the more a person is inclined to gratitude, the less likely he or she is to be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious, or neurotic.”

Here are three ways you can incorporate practicing gratitude into your daily life.

  1. Start the day by writing down one thing you’re grateful for.

Keeping a small notebook filled with lists of good things in your life is not just a cute idea you can find all over Pinterest. It’s a great way to set a focus for your day in addition to practicing gratitude. When you write down the best things going on in your life, you’re forcing yourself to acknowledge what does and does not matter, thereby better defining your own values while practicing gratitude – it’s the perfect two birds with one stone!

  1. Say thank you once a day.

Muttering “thanks” as you rush forward to catch a door held open for you doesn’t count. Make it a goal to thank someone for something that required time and effort once a day. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something they did for you; you could thank them for an inspiring post they made on social media or for a positive quality they possess that you’ve always admired, but never felt able to mention. Using your gratitude practice as an excuse, you can tell the people you love that you’ve always thought the way they handle themselves under pressure is amazing, that you really appreciate how they’re always suggesting fun things for you to do together, or any other compliment that has been on the tip of your tongue.

  1. Think about what your life would be like without the good things that have happened to you.

Perhaps rather counterintuitively, research on gratitude also shows that sometimes all it takes to feel incredibly lucky is to imagine your life without the people and events that make it special. Spend time thinking about what it would be like if you hadn’t met your best friend, or if you had never gotten that acceptance letter or taken that amazing class. Everyone has the occasional fantasy about redesigning their life, but if you think about the good things you do have, it’s scientifically proven to have a positive effect on your outlook.

Practicing gratitude can be hard. More often than not, we’re hardwired to focus more on the negative, and with the stress of finals coming up, it’s hard to find the time to count yourself as lucky. But gratitude is all about recognizing that each annoyance and stressor in your life is just one part of a much larger whole, and when you’re able to realize that, not only do you have an increased ability to turn those negatives into positives, you also have the motivation you’ll need to do it.

If you want to learn more, check out one of our older posts about a series of short films on what gratitude is, why it’s important, and tools to foster more of it in your daily life.  

Maya McNealis is a second year neuroscience student. In addition to writing for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, she is a news reporter for the Daily Bruin.


Get Involved: Out of the Darkness Campus Walk

It’s the beginning of Spring quarter — with only eight weeks until we reach the much-awaited summer — so what can we do to make this last quarter a memorable one? Get involved with a meaningful cause! A great chance to get involved is at the upcoming Out of the Darkness Campus Walk at UCLA’s Drake stadium on Sunday, April 23rd from 1pm-3pm. The walk is an event hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), and promotes suicide prevention and awareness, as well as the importance of mental health in general. Sounds like a noteworthy cause already, doesn’t it? But how much do you know about the statistics of suicide in the world today?

Before we get down to the numbers, let’s learn a little bit about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and why it hosts the Out of the Darkness walks. The AFS provides opportunities for survivors of suicide loss to be active in educational, outreach, awareness, advocacy, and fundraising programs. All of this has been done to create a culture that’s smart about mental health, in order to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. They are the largest private funder of suicide prevention research, and even started out as a small research organization until public donations transformed it into what it is today.

Some of their research thus far has been on the relationship between decision-making in a negative environment and the effects of teens who text a crisis line when seeking help. Their research has greatly contributed to what the world understands about suicide today, and more of their findings can be found here. You can also sign up to become an AFSP field advocate, along with thousands of other volunteers, and receive the latest policy news and events surrounding mental health, as well as learn how to take action against policy issues you care about. AFSP has chapters and events occurring in all fifty states, so check out their website for more information. On top of all of the above, they offer educational programs for schools, communities, and workplaces, such as More Than Sad and Signs Matter. It’s clear to see all of the effort that AFSP puts into the cause of suicide prevention and awareness, and it hosts the Out of the Darkness walks to fundraise for these efforts, as well as spread hope and awareness throughout the communities in which they are held. Now that we know what the cause is about, let’s return to the statistics which created it all.

The Facts

In the US alone:

  • There is one death by suicide in the US every 13.3 minutes
  • About 39,500 Americans lose their lives to suicide every year

In the world as a whole:

  • There is one death by suicide in the world every 40 seconds
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide

In terms of gender:

  • Suicide among males is 4X’s higher than among females
  • 79% of all US suicides are attributed to male deaths
  • Females attempt suicide 3X’s as often as males
  • Females experience Depression at about 2X’s the rate of men

In terms of age:

  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for people the ages of 15-24
  • The prevalence of suicidal thoughts, planning, and attempts are highest among adults age 18-29

In terms of gender identity and sexual orientation:

  • LGBTQ+ youth who come from families that reject or do not accept them are 8X’s more likely to attempt suicide than those from families who accept them
  • LGBTQ+ youth are 3X’s more likely than straight youth to attempt suicide in their lifetime
  • Each time a LGBTQ youth is a victim of verbal of physical harassment/abuse they are 2.5X’s more likely to hurt themselves

Pretty startling, isn’t it? Suicide is a prominent concern in our society, affecting all ages, genders, and sexual orientations. Even if you haven’t been directly affected by suicide, the chances are that you have a family member, friend, or coworker who has been. We walk for them, and for all those who have been affected, in hopes of reducing the rate of suicide 20% by 2025.

If you feel drawn to the cause, you can donate to the foundation and the walk event by clicking here. If you would like to donate your time at the event, register to be a walker/start your own team here, or volunteer to help at the event if that appeals more to your interests. Those are three ways that you can get involved with the walk to show your support for suicide prevention awareness — which one will you try? If you do decide to walk, come and find me with the Resilience Peer Network (RPN) walking team, or visit the table hosted by UCLA’s Depression Grand Challenge. We may not all have a mental illness, but we all have mental health, and it’s imperative that its importance be brought to the forefront of everyone’s attention. Lace up your shoes, and get ready to make this Spring quarter one in which you show your support for a great cause.

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.