Supporting Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Support Groups

During these challenging current times that we all find ourselves in, it is important to take time for self-care. The Office of Risk Services is continuing to offer support group sessions with additional providers and areas of focus starting in July to help support the mental health and well-being of our faculty and staff. 

Tuesdays, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM with Silvia Austerlic, MA

El Jardin de la Escucha, a healing justice listening circle, welcomes you into an inclusive, safe and brave space to take a pause, and connect with yourself and others in mindful and caring ways. In these times of extreme uncertainty, adversity, and new possibilities, the rapidly growing pile of crises may narrow our focus to the immediate urgency at hand. Counterintuitively, it is in critical moments like these that our wisest move is to pause, abandon reactivity, cultivate resourcefulness, and develop personal leadership. In this supportive space, you will ground in your internal resources, and learn tools and practices for self-care and resilience, while fostering individual/collective well-being and building community.

Each week will have a different discussion topic. March 30th will be A Healing Justice Moment, April 13th will be Rethinking Self and Community Care in Stormy Times, April 20th will be Building Resilience During Uncertain Times, April 27th will be Practicing Slowing Down, May 11th will be Mindful Communication, May 18th will be Setting Healthy Boundaries, May 25th will be Embodied Listening from the Inside Out, June 8th will be Alleviating Stress with the Window of Tolerance, June 15th will be Body Wisdom, June 22nd will be Cultivating a Healthy Mindset, and June 29th will be Mindful Emotional Care. More details for each topic can be found in the sign up sheet.

Silvia Austerlic

This weekly gathering is facilitated by Silvia Austerlic, an intercultural educator, facilitator and consultant @ Senti-Pensante Connections. She is a working member of the Radical Resilience Initiative and a lecturer for Oakes College where she developed and teaches a class titled “Building an inner sanctuary” about the cultivation of inner and external resources in order to show up for social justice and community care. She also facilitates campus-wide learning events surrounding cultural humility, social justice, and fostering care in the community. Sign up for Silvia's sessions here.

Wednesdays 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM with Laurel Andres, LMFT

Laurel Andres, LMFT, will facilitate a confidential support group for staff and faculty where she will focus on the cumulative stress and anxiety that could be brought on by the ongoing pandemic, working from home, unrest and injustice, isolation, the devastating fires, and divisive elections.  She will utilize didactic modules on self-awareness and self-care, writing exercises, dyads and group discussion to delve into individual coping and thriving mechanisms. Laurel will discuss the importance of engaging with others in meaningful conversation and inquiry regarding self-care, attending to oneself, our stories and families, as not taking that route can run the risk of those stressors turning into cumulative trauma rather than contributing to growing resilience.

Laurel Andres Laurel Andres is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has her own private psychotherapy practice and is also part of the Critical Incident Team in Santa Cruz County, where she coordinates and facilitates emergency mental health services following acute disasters and periods of long term stress. Sign up for Laurel's sessions here.

Additional Resources

Below are some resources for faculty, staff and students from our department, the campus community, sister campuses, and companies around the globe to help support your mental health during this time.

How to care for yourself:

How to talk to others about risks and fears:

How to care for others:

Useful Apps

Meditation and relaxation:

  • Headspace's free Weather the Storm meditations, plus other free content for a two week trial
  • Calm has specific meditations, sleep stories, and music for free to support users during this time, plus other free content for a seven day trial
  • Ten Percent Happier has a Coronavirus Sanity Guide with free meditations, podcasts, blog posts, and talks
  • UCLA Mindful App has free English and Spanish meditations

Coping with stress and anxiety:

  • PsyberGuide helps you choose a Mental Health app that is best for you
  • Sanvello, an app with techniques for reducing and treating stress, anxiety, and depression, has free premium access through the COVID-19 crisis
  • Happify has free content available to help overcome negative thoughts during the COVID-19 outbreak
  • MindShift CBT has free content to help reduce worry, panic, and social anxiety


  • CBT-i Coach has free cognitive behavioral therapy to help address insomnia

For more resources on how to stay well during shelter in place, please visit our Virtual Wellness Resources page.

Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 News

For questions regarding wellness programming, please contact Jessica Bulleri, Wellness Coordinator at, or questions regarding mental health wellness resources please contact Cindy Delgado, at in the Office of Risk Services.