Mental Health Connector

Mental Health Connector

Mental health has been a taboo topic for many years and seeking professional help was frowned upon. Fortunately, mental health is now a more widely accepted topic and it is now encouraged to seek professional help to start healing. Remember that seeking therapy does not mean that there is something wrong with you, it means that you are investing in a better version of yourself. 

Immigrants Rising’s Mental Health Connector provides undocumented young people with psychological support. The experienced and culturally responsive mental health therapists volunteer to provide free and completely confidential services, tailored to meet the needs of each individual. All undocumented young people who reside in California and are comfortable conversing in English are eligible for the services. 

Are you interested in receiving mental health support?

If you feel ready to receive mental health support, start by filling out this questionnaire. This questionnaire is to connect you with a qualified therapist who can support you. You are also welcomed to email the Mental Health Team for more information about this service, all inquiries are strictly confidential.

Disclaimer: this is not an emergency service. If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, text HOME to 741741 or call 1-800-273-8255. Both services are free and available 24/7.

Are you interested in providing mental health support?

If you are a licensed mental health professional who is interested in volunteering your services, please fill out this questionnaire. You may also email the Clinical Director, Dr. Loren Krane, for more information about the service.

Visit Immigrants Rising webpage for more information.

Undocu-Immigrant Mental Health Grounding & Self-Care Toolkit

Undocu-Immigrant Mental Health Grounding & Self-Care Toolkit

2021 is here! Although it is a new year, 2020 left behind a lot of stress, anxiety, and anguish. If you could use some self-care and grounding tips, stick around because we got you covered! Immigrants Rising has come up with a grounding and self-care toolkit to get you started on your healing journey! 

Practical Ways to Decrease Stress & Anxiety in Any Situation: 

Mindfulness & Meditation 

Meditation reduces stress and anxiety, develops awareness of the breath and body, and helps the mind focus on the present moment. 

Grounding 

Grounding is a quick and effective way to reduce the intensity of emotions and anxiety. Use your five senses to soothe and reset your nervous system: Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste, and Touch.

Breathing Exercises 

Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of physical and emotional calmness/soothness. Check out Breathing Bubble, a guided breathing exercise.

In the mood for writing? Learn about your triggers and write down what they look and feel like. Next, begin journaling and thinking about what you need right now.
For the full PDF toolkit, click here.

Resources for the Holidays: LGBTQ+ Resources, Food Banks, Shelters, and more!

Resources for the Holidays: LGBTQ+ Resources, Food Banks, Shelters, and more!

By MONICA AGUILERA

Boba-drinking, Zelda-playing, Horror-watching brown girl from Oaxacalifornia.

The holiday season is upon us!  While this can be a time of celebration with family and friends, this can also be a stressful time for college students and their families. A lot of money and time goes into these celebrations that not everyone has the means for. In addition, for vulnerable students like low-income, houseless, and queer students this can be a time of stress and uncertainty.

However, in times like these, we can depend on community and mutual aid because we have each other’s back. Below we have listed different resources college students and their families can hopefully benefit from.  

Food Banks: Offers free food such as non-perishables, fruits, and vegetables.

Find a Food Bank 

California Food Banks 

Shelters: If you are seeking emergency shelter or a safe place to stay during the holiday/ winter season, here is CA’s shelter directory:

Emergency and Homeless Shelters – United Way 211 

California Homeless Shelters – California 

COVENANT HOUSE CALIFORNIA – Serving homeless youth in Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay area 

Queer Resources: For some queer students, college is the perfect escape to find and embrace who they are without the fear of rejection. This can sometimes make going back home difficult. Below are LGBTQ resources like CSU centers, self-care guide, and county and statewide resources you can access.

LGBTQIA Centers | CSU 

Self-Care During The Holiday Season – The Trevor Project  

County Resources 

Statewide Resources 

Holiday Gifts- Have a young child in your life? Here are some centers and organizations that host toy drives:

Get FREE Christmas Gifts & Food In California!  

Free Christmas and holiday assistance Los Angeles County   

Setting Boundaries for the Holiday Season and Beyond

Setting Boundaries for the Holiday Season and Beyond

By ARIANA LOPEZ TORRES

Ariana is studying microbiology, she enjoys listening to true-crime podcasts and spending time with her cat Luna.

The holidays can be a stressful time for some and may even bring up feelings of sadness. It is normal to have these feelings and let them be felt. Knowing a couple of coping skills can help you keep grounded when anxious feelings come up. 

Disclaimer: These are just tips and not actual advice from a health professional. This is not to replace a form of therapy. 

Setting Boundaries

If you are spending time with your family members this holiday season, you may know the feeling of being uncomfortable with some of the things they say or because of the way they act. This is normal. We do not have perfect families. Do yourself a favor and set boundaries with them. Although this can be a bit difficult, it is very well worth it.

  1. Recognize your triggers and predict them. A “trigger” is considered a difficult situation or event. Always try to be one step ahead of your triggers by:
    • Knowing what they are 
    • Recognizing the emotions that are brought up
    • How you can best take care of yourself
    • How you plan to respond to it
  2. Know that “No” is not enough
    • Some were taught that saying “no” is not polite or safe. However, “no” should always be enough. Other alternatives are “I feel uncomfortable,” “no, this is inappropriate,” “no, I am leaving,” or “I don’t want to have that conversation.” These alternatives are a better approach to saying “no” and clearly state your needs.
  3. Be clear about your needs and communicate them 
    • Identify your needs and boundaries in advance with others. We all have different limits and we have every right to set them. Once you have identified your limits, communicate them clearly and kindly.

Coping Skills

Once you have established your boundaries, you should begin to learn to cope with them. Keeping a list of coping skills can help you stay calm when certain triggers appear. Here is a list of a few coping skills that may help you:

  1. Deep breaths and count to 10 slowly:
    • Take a few deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly. When you are ready, count to 10 slowly. If you prefer, count to 20.
  2. Write down your thoughts
    • Have a journal where you can write down what is making you feel anxious, angry or upset. Writing down these thoughts gets them out of your head and can make it less daunting.
  3. Practice mindfulness
    • Mindfulness can help ground yourself in the reality of what’s around you. Anxiety attacks can cause a feeling of detachment or separation from reality, practicing mindfulness can combat these anxious feelings as they approach or actually happen. Focus on physical sensations, such as digging your feet into the ground or feeling objects near you. These sensations ground you firmly in reality and give you an object to focus on. 
  4. Engage in light exercise
    • Walking and moving your body can remove you from a stressful environment and moving can help regulate your breathing. Moving around, whether it be by running, taking a nice stroll, or lifting weights, releases endorphins that relax the body and improve mood. Regularly exercising can help reduce anxiety over time.
  5. The 5-4-3-2-1 method 
    • The 5-4-3-2-1 method is a grounding technique and a type of mindfulness. It helps to direct your focus away from the source of stress. To use this method, you should complete the following steps slowly and thoroughly:
      • Look for 5 different objects: think about them for a short while, are the colors bright? Is the object round or a different shape?
      • Listen for 4 different sounds: think about where they came from and how they are different from each other
      • Touch 3 different objects: consider if the object is hot or cold, how does the texture feel and what are they are used for 
      • Identify 2 different smells: it can be any smell, your coffee/tea, your soap, or your laundry detergent
      • Look for 1 thing you can taste: notice the taste in your mouth, is it sour or sweet? How does the texture feel?

Sources:

https://www.bustle.com/p/how-to-set-boundaries-with-your-family-according-to-a-life-coach-16980926

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/pain-explained/201912/how-set-boundaries-family

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321510#methods

How to Vote in California: Registering, Mailing Ballots, and Propositions!

How to Vote in California: Registering, Mailing Ballots, and Propositions!

By ARIANA LOPEZ TORRES

Ariana is studying microbiology, she enjoys listening to true-crime podcasts and spending time with her cat Luna.

How to register

California offers voter registration online at RegisterToVote.ca.gov

Voter Registration Guide:  Cal Matters Voting Guide  

To register in California you must:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be a resident of California
  • Be at least 18 years old or older on Election day
  • Not be currently in state or federal prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony

Poll Workers 

Be a Student Poll Worker

To be a student poll worker you need to be 16 years old, a U.S. citizen,  must maintain a 2.5-grade point average, and receive permission from your parents or guardian. Additionally, you may be eligible for a stipend ranging from $64 to $150 depending on where you live. 

More information found here

Become a Poll Worker 

To serve as a poll worker you must be:

  • A registered California voter or legal resident of the U.S. who would be eligible to vote 

Responsibilities:

  • Set up and close voting place
  • Help voters understand their rights 
  • Protects ballots and voting equipment 

To apply to become a poll worker, contact your county elections official for an application

Vote by Mail 

All registered voters will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the November 3, 2020, General Election. 

Steps:

  1. Fill out your ballot
  2. After you have voted, insert your ballot in the envelope provided, making sure you complete all required information on the envelope
  3. You may return your voted ballot by mail, in person, or to a drop box;
  • If you are returning your ballot by mail, it must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 17 days after Election Day
  • If you are returning your ballot in person or dropping it in a drop box, it must be delivered no later than the close of polls at 8:00 pm on November 3rd
  • Anyone may return your ballot for you, as long as they do not get paid on a per ballot basis. In order for your ballot to be counted, you must fill out the authorization section found on the outside of your ballot envelope. 

More information on elections, candidates, voting, and helpful resources can be found here.

Propositions

Propositions, also known as ballot measures, are laws, issues, or questions that appear on a state ballot for voters to decide. They are the only way to change a state constitution in all states except Delaware.  

Title Subject  Description 
Proposition 14 Bonds Borrow Money to Continue STEM Cell Research

Background: Issues $5.5 billion in bonds for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to conduct stem cell research.

Voting YES: allows for $5.5 billion bonds to be borrowed for stem cell and other medical research. Increases focus on improving access to treatments by changing CIRM structure.

Voting NO: a $5.5 billion bond is not issued.

Proposition 15 Taxes Increase Commercial Property Tax to fund Schools & Local Governments 

Background: Current tax assessment is from Prop 13 (1978) without adjustment for inflation since then.

Voting YES: property taxes on commercial properties worth more than $3 million would go to fund local government and schools. Prop 15 would be phased in starting in 2022, raising $6 to $12 billion yearly. 

Voting NO: property taxes do not change from what was approved in 1978.

Proposition 16 Affirmative Action  End the Ban on Affirmative Action

Background: repeals Prop 209, which prohibits discrimination or preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, education, and contracting. 

Voting YES: allows “diversity” to be considered by public agencies. Does not alter current laws guaranteeing equal protection or prohibiting unlawful discrimination.

Voting NO: Prop 209 ban on affirmative action remains in effect. 

Proposition 17 Suffrage Restoring the Rights to Vote to People on Parole

Background: Currently, the CA Constitution requires people with felonies to complete their imprisonment and parole before regaining their right to vote.

Voting YES: allows people on parole to vote, if they are U.S. citizens, residents of California, and at least 18 years old. 

Voting NO: people on parole will continue to be unable to vote.

Proposition 18 Suffrage Voting Rights for Some 17-year-olds

Background: Currently, the CA Constitution requires voters to be at least 18-years-old on the election date to vote in that election.

Voting YES: allows 17-year-olds to participate in primary and special elections if they will be 18 years old by the next general election. 

Voting NO: no changes to CA constitution no one under 18 years of age can vote. 

Proposition 19 Taxes Property Tax Transfers and Exemptions 

Background: Changes tax assessment transfers and inheritance rules

Voting YES: allows all homeowners that are over 55, disabled, or victims of natural disasters to be eligible for property tax savings. Inherited if used as primary homes or farms. Creates a state fire protection services fund. 

Voting NO: some homeowners that are over 55, disabled, or victims of natural disasters are eligible for property tax savings. All inheritance properties remain eligible. 

Proposition 20 Law Enforcement  Changes to Criminal Sentencing, Parole, & DNA Collection 

Background: Makes changes to policies related to criminal sentencing charges, prison release, and DNA collection.

Voting YES: makes changes to AB 109 (2011), Prop 47 (2012), and Prop 57 (2016). These props intended to reduce the prison population. Increases penalties for certain theft and fraud misdemeanors. Require DNA collection for certain misdemeanors. Increases the requirements needed for early parole consideration. Redefine 51 crimes as violent, excluding them from the parole program.

Voting NO: no changes. Penalties would not increase for certain misdemeanors. Early parole consideration factors would not be increased. DNA collection only required for felonies, sex offenders, and arsonists. 

Proposition 21 Housing  Rent Control

Background: in 2010, Prop 10 was introduced and rejected. Prop 10 would have allowed rent control on any type of property. Prop 21 builds upon this but adds more specifics. 

Voting YES: allows cities to limit rent increases for buildings at least 15 years old. Exempts single-family homeowners who own up to two homes.

Voting NO: no changes. Rent control is limited. 

Proposition 22 Business  App-Based Drivers as Contractors

Background: Considers app-based drivers to be independent contractors and enacts several labor policies related to app-based companies

Voting YES: Define app-based rideshare and delivery drivers as independent contractors. Create new labor and wage policies such as an earnings floor and limited work hours for app-based drivers. Requires companies to provide or make available occupational insurance. 

Voting NO: App-based drivers could be classified as employees under AB 5 (109). Drivers would have less work flexibility but also have standard benefits that businesses must provide employees.

Proposition 23 Healthcare  Regulation of Dialysis Clinics 

Background: This prop comes from an ongoing conflict between a labor union for healthcare workers (SEIU-UHW West) and CA’s two largest dialysis businesses (DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care).

Voting YES: Require every clinic to: have at least one physician present at all time, report data to the state, obtain state approval before closing a clinic, and not discriminate against patients  based on the source of payment

Voting NO: no extra requirements for clinics to be imposed 

Proposition 24 Business  Stronger Consumer Privacy Laws 

Background: The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) went into effect in January 2020 and enforcement began in July 2020. The act gave individuals more control over their data. Companies have to explain if data is being sold or collected. Consumers can opt out or request data deletion.

Voting YES: Strengthens current privacy laws. Defines data “sharing” to allow consumers to limit data sharing. Establishes the Privacy Protection Agency. 

Voting NO: No changes from the CCPA (2018)

Proposition 25 Trails  Cash Bail. Should We Keep it or Not?

Background: Senate Bill 10 (SB 10) was passed in 2018 which would make CA the first state without cash bail for those awaiting trials. Cash bail was replaced with risk assessment based on the suspect’s risk of failing to appear in court and on the suspect’s risk to public safety. SB 10 was put on hold due to a petition.

Voting YES: upholds  SB 10. Cash bail would be replaced with risk assessments.

Voting NO: Rejects SB 10. The bail system would remain as is. 

 

COVID-19: Learn the Facts, How to Protect Yourself, and Where to Get Tested

COVID-19: Learn the Facts, How to Protect Yourself, and Where to Get Tested

By ARIANA LOPEZ TORRES

Ariana is studying microbiology, she enjoys listening to true-crime podcasts and spending time with her cat Luna.

What is COVID-19? 

Coronavirus is a type of virus. There are different kinds such as the coronavirus that commonly circulates among humans and causes mild illness, like the common cold. The newly identified coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has caused a worldwide pandemic of a respiratory illness called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This new coronavirus emerged in China in December 2019.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms include cough, fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle or body aches, sore throat, a new loss of taste and smell, diarrhea, headache, new fatigue, nausea or vomiting and congestion or runny nose. COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Infected people have had a wide range of symptoms, from mild symptoms to severe illness. In rare cases, COVID-19 can lead to respiratory problems, kidney failure or death. 

How can I protect myself from COVID-19?

Currently, there is no coronavirus vaccine yet. Since the new coronavirus can be spread from person to person, it is important to use a face mask covering your nose and mouth and practice physical distancing. Prevention involves frequent hand-washing, coughing into the bend of your elbow, and staying home when you are sick. Read more about ways to protect yourself

How is COVID-19 diagnosed and treated?

Diagnosis may be difficult with a physical exam because mild cases of COVID-19 may resemble the flu or a bad cold. A laboratory test can only confirm the diagnosis. As of now, there is no specific treatment for the virus. People who become sick from COVID-19 are treated with supportive measures: those that relieve symptoms. For severe cases, additional options for treatment can be research drugs and therapeutics. 

COVID-19 & students

University campuses across the United States are seeing a rise in positive COVID-19 due to campuses reversing back to in-person classes and students going back to dormitories. Notre Dame officials said that a majority of their cases can be traced to a SINGLE off-campus gathering. Students not wearing masks and gathering in large crowds has added to the rising positive cases universities have seen.

Read article here

Free testing sites in the 9 regions in California 

Superior California 

Testing sites in Stanislaus County 

North Coast

San Francisco Bay Area

Additional testing sites in the San Francisco Bay Area 

Northern San Joaquin Valley 

Central Coast

This includes testing sites in Monterey County, Santa Cruz County, San Benito County 

Testing Sites for San Luis Obispo 

Southern San Joaquin Valley

Inland Empire: This includes various testing sites in Riverside County and San Bernardino County 

Los Angeles County

Orange County 

Testing site for those with symptoms 

San Diego – Imperial 

Others

Testing sites throughout the state of California 

Testing sites throughout California and participating states 

Testing sites in the United States 

Mythbusters 

FACT: The coronavirus disease is caused by a virus,  NOT a bacteria 

  • The virus that causes COVID-19 is in a family of viruses called Coronaviridae. Antibiotics do not work against viruses. In some cases, people who become ill with COVID-19 may develop a bacterial infection as a complication. In this case, antibiotics may be recommended by a healthcare provider. 

FACT: The prolonged use of medical masks when properly worn, DOES NOT cause CO2 intoxication nor oxygen deficiency

  • The prolonged use of medical masks can be uncomfortable, however, it does not lead to CO2 intoxication nor oxygen deficiency. While wearing a medical mask, make sure it fits properly and that it is tight enough to allow you to breathe normally. Do not reuse a disposable mask and always change it as soon as it gets damp. 

FACT: There are currently no drugs licensed for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19

  • While several drug trials are ongoing, there is currently no proof that hydroxychloroquine or any other drug can cure or prevent COVID-19.

FACT: 5G mobile networks DO NOT spread COVID-19

  • Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks. 

FACT: The COVID-19 virus can spread in hot and humid climates

  • The COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in any climate, including areas with hot and humid weather. Additionally, there is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill new coronavirus or other diseases. 

Sources: 

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters

Taking Care of Your Body During a Pandemic: Daily Walks, Workouts, and Dancing!

Taking Care of Your Body During a Pandemic: Daily Walks, Workouts, and Dancing!

By MONICA AGUILERA

Boba-drinking, Zelda-playing, Horror-watching brown girl from Oaxacalifornia.

A lot of our daily routines have halted like driving to work or school, meeting up with friends, and working out. While some of these are still not yet safe to do, there are ways to shift these activities into our new reality. Gyms will most likely be one of the last public spaces in California to open but we have gathered some tips for you to stay fit at home! 

Tips: 

  • Youtube workouts: There’s plenty of workout videos on Youtube that you can follow along to. Try searching for what fits your environment! For example workouts in small spaces, backyard workouts, low impact workouts, no equipment workout, etc.
  • Outdoor Workouts: While gyms are not open, outdoor activities are still open for you to safely participate in. This includes going for a walk, running, hiking at your local trails.  Just make sure to follow the CDC guidelines of staying 6 feet away from others and wearing a mask. Find your local open state park here: State Parks COVID-19 Resource Center
  •  Working out with others: Feeling lonely? Don´t feel too down, you can still work out with others without having to leave your home. Set up a time for you and your friends to work out together via facetime, zoom, etc. Follow an online video or influencer, or switch it up and have someone in your group lead!
  • Daily routine: Little activities like dancing, cleaning, taking your pet for a walk all count as a fitness activity, add fitness into your daily routine and you’ll forget you’re even working out.

Staying fit is not only good for your body but your mental health as well. It allows you to destress and get away from the overwhelming amount of news that is currently happening. But at the same time, we also understand that what’s going on in the world might make it difficult to do things like getting up and being active. Remember to be patient with yourself, you are doing the best you can. Taking a break and just staying in bed, is taking care of yourself and your body just as much. 

 

Find Services to Support Your Mental Health

Find Services to Support Your Mental Health

By MONICA AGUILERA

Boba-drinking, Zelda-playing, Horror-watching brown girl from Oaxacalifornia.

An important factor in mental health is knowing what help you need and where you can find it. During this time of uncertainty, you might find yourself anxious, overwhelmed, and/or discouraged. They are all valid feelings. If these feelings continue for a long period of time, you might find some security in taking an online mental health assessment. By taking a mental health screening/ assessment, you are opening yourself to resources and support that will help you throughout your college career and after. 

 Mental health screenings are short quizzes that tally up your score and give you a quick analysis of what you might be feeling and if they are symptoms of a mental health condition. Below are some sites that do free online screenings: 

  • Mental Health America: features online mental screening tests in English and Spanish regarding anxiety, depression, postpartum depression, psychosis, eating disorders, and PTSD.
  • American Mental Wellness: a hub of different screening tests where you can take multiple screenings from different medical sites regarding depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, abuse/dating violence/ domestic violence, and more.

Once you complete the screenings, both sites provide information regarding where to find resources corresponding to your results. Whether you find out you have symptoms of a condition or not, therapy is something students, especially first-generation students can partake in and take advantage of. 

    • Your College’s Wellness Center: Your college possibly offers mental health services at your Student Health/Wellness Center. Some colleges offer up to three sessions. Take advantage of them, their services are included in the tuition and fees you already pay for!  

There are several resources out there to support your needs and you are worthy of all of them! Any step you take towards the betterment of your mental health is a big win for yourself, your mind and body, and those who care for you. We are ready to support you. 

 

Taking Care of Yourself During COVID-19

Taking Care of Yourself During COVID-19

By ANA ANTUNA

LA girl who enjoys films, vegetarian food, and art. USC Alum.

The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the stress we have all collectively felt throughout this year. From being personally affected by the virus to losing our jobs, transitioning to distanced learning, and so much more. All the emotions you have felt and continue to feel are completely valid. We also acknowledge how difficult it may be to be home at this time. College is an escape for many of us for a wide array of reasons. As low-income first-generation students, we do not often have our own space to focus solely on schoolwork. It is important to establish boundaries during this time with your family, siblings, or whoever you share a space with. Since the pandemic continues to bring uncertainty, it continues to cause anxiety and stress in our communities. It is important to practice self-care and take care of ourselves and our mental health. Mental Health resources are also not always accessible, however, we have provided a few resources below that will help with practicing self-care.

  •  Self Care Interactive Guide: Self-care is important, and you deserve to devote some time to it. This is an interactive flow chart for people who struggle with self-care, executive dysfunction, and/or who have trouble reading internal signals.
  • Care for Your Anxiety: COVID-19 has caused anxiety for many of us, especially with the increasing number of cases in California. Use this toolkit to care for your anxiety by meditating, finding tips to feel at ease, and find support.
  • Apps like Headspace help with meditation and breathing techniques. Download them to find the best fit for you.
    • If you are an LA resident, you will have access to Headspace for free until December 31st. College students can pay $9 for a yearly subscription.
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Resources:
    • Taking Care of Your Emotional Health: It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during and after a disaster. Self-care during an emergency will help your long-term healing.
    • Coping With Stress: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may be stressful for people. Coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/