Maintaining a healthy life is essential for the transition to college and for excelling at Penn. Penn supports students with a number of resources and they are open to everyone. It is useful to learn about these resources, especially ones that relate directly to international students.
CAPS International Students Programs and Resources:
Counseling and Psychological Services is the counseling center at Penn. Located on 3624 Market Street, CAPS provide free and confidential services to all Penn students.
CAPS also has a number of international student specific programs overseen by the international specialist, Dr. Yuhong He.
CAPS provides multilingual counseling in Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, and Korean, so you are able to speak to a professional counselor in your mother tongue if you prefer. All students are welcomed to attend group workshops, speak to a counselor during walk-in hours, or schedule an individual consultation session.
Penngagement International Experiences (PIE) Series is a year-round program with events held on a regular basis for international students to become more familiar with campus resources and learn topics unique to the American culture.
Wellness at Penn
Wellness at Penn is a centralized website that provides support, resources, and practical tools for wellness across the Penn community. The website provides a comprehensive list of links to relevant groups and other resources at Penn for your emotional, physical, mental, social, sexual, spiritual, financial, or occupational well-being. You can also find series of events hosted by these wellness groups on this website.
The Reach-A-Peer Helpline/Online is a peer help line that provides peer support, information, and referrals to any and all students at Penn. The service is open to all students who wish to share a problem, are in need of information, or just want to talk to someone about anything on their mind.
Penn Benjamins offers short-term, confidential, in-person peer listening and referral services to any member of the Penn undergraduate community. Students can feel free to come to Benjamins and talk about anything.
Student Health Service: https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/shs/
Office of the Chaplain: https://chaplain.upenn.edu
The Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Program Initiative: https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/alcohol/
Campus Health: https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/shs/campushealth/
Resources related to Interpersonal Violence: https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/pvp/resources.php
Q: What did you think of wellness before coming to Penn and has that changed after being here for some time?
“Before I came to Penn I didn’t really think about wellness or mental health at all, but once I got here I realized that the environment was so unique that it’s unavoidable to think about your own wellness and that of people around you. The environment can definitely be more challenging than anything you’ve ever faced, from a variety of angles. I started to actively notice my mental state and tried to develop good habits to take care of it.”
“I went to high school in US, so I am aware of the discussion on wellness before coming to Penn. Nonetheless, what I realized was Penn has a much challenging schedule than my high school, and it can easily be overwhelming at times. When it comes maintaining good physical and mental wellness, it takes a bit more effort.”
Q: Do you know of any other formal or informal way to improve your own health and wellness?
“Friends, friends, friends. Put down the books for a second and have good conversations with friends, people in your building, and those around you. Engaging with and enjoying time with other people is so beneficial for your mental wellness.”
“Of course I think it varies from person to person, so it is important for each person to find the method that works for them. For me, physically, I always try to eat healthy and work out when I can; mentally, taking some time to myself is the simplest and most effective way. More formally, speaking to a peer counselor or a counselor at CAPS are also helpful ways.”
Q: What advice do you have for students who are considering going to the offices above or using the services?
“There are so many resources out there for you — this can be overwhelming. Often, it’s hard to know where to start. You may think that your issue is too small or that there’s no proper place to talk about it. But this isn’t true. Start by reaching out to AIS’ Support Network, or Reach-a-Peer Helpline. They’re there to talk about anything, as long as you want to talk about it.
Other than that, my advice is simple: Use the resources. Take your wellness into your own hands, because you can. Don’t be afraid of any stigma. Don’t be scared that your issue is “too small.” Don’t be afraid of “wasting time” — time spent taking care of yourself is never wasted time. And don’t write off the resources because you think they cannot help you: you don’t know what you can do for yourself until you try, and more often than not, simply taking the first step and reaching out leads to something great.”
“I know a number of people who serve as peer counselors in RAP line or AIS’s Support Network, and they are some of the most selfless and caring people I have met at Penn. I can only say that they are volunteering their time and energy because they truly care about everyone’s wellness and the wellness initiatives at Penn. They are very open and understanding of what you are going through. So if you ever need them, they will listen and be there to support you. CAPS and other more formal counseling services might seem like just another school office, but they are consisted of a number of staff who genuinely care about what you want to talk about, and there is no shame in asking for help. Not Ever.”