Skip subnavigation and go to article content


Berkeley Public Health recognizes that the coronavirus pandemic plus sheltering-in-place pose unprecedented challenges to all of us emotionally as well as physically. Our team is reaching out to everyone in our BPH community to express our strong commitment to supporting you and building solidarity during this crisis.

We understand that the members of our community each have different lives and vulnerabilities and each person will respond to the crisis in their own individual way but as a community we want to help everyone find the mental health support they need. We are therefore excited to share our resiliency initiatives and mental health resources:

Ongoing Initiatives

During the pandemic, Berkeley Public Health is leading a series of events to promote community building among our remotely located communities, staff, faculty, graduate and undergraduate students,  and administration. These events are publicized on the regularly updated Community Building Calendar. Note that you must have a Cal Net ID to view this calendar.

Why: To break down silos and foster empathic listening across the school, we are launching an initiative to grow our community exponentially, which depends on as many as possible participating.

What: We invite each person in the BPH community to reach out to two people for a brief conversation to build connection. If you would like to participate, please pick two people to contact and invite them by email to participate in a “group of three” conversation. If you reach out to someone who has already been contacted or who does not wish to participate, please pick a different person.

How: These can be done via Zoom, Google Hangouts or by phone. They can be brief and prompted by a couple conversation starters:

    • What has been unexpected about your experience of sheltering at home?
    • What is one tip you’d like to pass on for getting through this pandemic (could be a small cooking tip, something silly or something serious)?

Next Step: At the end of the conversation, please encourage your partners to each reach out to two other people to grow a network across the school. Our hope is that this will ripple through the whole school and foster connections during this time of shelter in place.

Joonie Kim is leading this effort.

Lauren Goldstein started a parenting_during_pandemic chat room using Slack for parents to share tips, resources, tricks, challenges, successes related to juggling parenting and work responsibilities. Please contact Lauren for more information.

Language: Yasmin Wofford started a google doc for staff called: Community During Shelter in Residence. This is a place where staff can share the tips and challenges of working at home, funny stories, pictures of their pets, etc. If you are a staff member and would like that link, please contact Yasmin Wofford at

We’d love to see photos and videos of how you are finding ways to get through this time (e.g, doing online workout videos, writing, watching sunsets, etc.). We would like to use this photo/video sharing activity to build togetherness (despite social distancing). To access the form, or if you have any questions, please contact Jay Graham.

Photos/videos will be shared on Instagram (Username: berkeley_sph_how_are_you_doing), and for those without an Instagram account, we will send out a weekly PDF with a collage of photos. We look forward to seeing your images!

Mental Health Resources

This is a time of enormous mental health challenges, people are anxious and afraid, and many are experiencing the need for clinical support. Living in tight quarters while working and caring for multiple generations is also increasing family conflicts and in some cases, violence, and help is available.

We unfortunately recognize that the majority of these resources depend upon a stable internet connection, the possession of internet capable technology, and/or a phone. Some of these resources can be downloaded should you be concerned about continuing to have internet access, and we encourage you to write down relevant hotline numbers to have on hand.

The list of resources below has been adapted and vetted by Emily Ozer, Julie Deardorff and Jodi Halpern. Amin Azzam MD, has also developed a list of important links and resources that you might find valuable.

If you are in danger of immediate harm from another or self-harm, it is appropriate to go to the nearest emergency room or call 911. When your needs are urgent, but you can wait on the line, you can also text or call:

  • Crisis Text Line: Text “741741”
  • Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call 1-800-273-8255
    • 800-784-2433 Toll-free
    • 888-628-9454 Toll-free Spanish
  • Trans Lifeline: Call 877-565-8860 (Toll-free) or email
  • Covid-19 Crisis Lines : If you feel overwhelmed about COVID-19 and need someone to talk to, call or text SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Hotline. This is a 24/7 hotline dedicated to emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
  • Hotline provided through a long-standing emergency preparedness partnership between DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health and the West Virginia Poison Center Operators are available 24/7 toll-free at 1-800-887-4304

If you are isolated or quarantined with people who you do not feel safe with, or you are worried about someone who might be unsafe (emotionally or physically violent with you or other members of your household), consider utilizing these local and national resources for sexual and domestic violence or abuse (e.g. child, people with disabilities, or older adults).

The people who answer your call/text are trained to help with safety planning, assess how you are feeling, and discuss what you might want to do next. Your communication with these certified counselors is confidential (e.g. they won’t tell others what you share with them).

However, these counselors are also mandated reporters (e.g. they may need to share something you tell them with others to keep you or someone else safe). You can begin your call by asking, “Can you explain your mandated reporter responsibilities to me?”

A warm line might be useful. Warm lines are hotlines that you can call to speak with someone. You do not need to be experiencing a “crisis” to call/text a warm line. Your call/texting session might be brief; be prepared to wait “on hold.”

If you are calling from within the state of California, you can reach out to the CA Mental Health Association 24/7 warm phone and chat line at 1 (855) 845-7415. Please note that there may be an above average wait time.

Many of these resources may have limited hours or may be closed until students return to campus. We include website links that will help you stay updated on these resources and their availability.

Students are also encouraged to understand their student health benefits. The following is listed on their website (please check for updates):

  • All medical and mental health care, with the exception of emergency room or urgent care services, must begin at University Health Services (UHS). All non-emergency services outside of UHS must be approved by the Student Health Insurance Office in order to ensure payment for services.
  • There is a $300 per plan year deductible for some medical services provided outside of UHS.
  • If providers or facilities are used that are not part of in-network provider, claims will be paid at 50% of the non-network rate (customary and reasonable), which is often significantly lower than the in-network rate. For example, 90% coverage of the in-network rate is going to be less costly to the patient than 50% coverage of the non-network rate.

For updates from the University Health Services please find information here:

You may prefer to seek mental health support from a local counselor or therapist. At the time of this writing, most psychologists and therapists in the Bay Area have moved their in-person practices to telepsychology/teletherapy using secure video interfaces or are delivering services by telephone. You can also reach out to Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services Access line at (800) 491-9099.

To search for a therapist, try using the website Psychology Today. Be sure to ask about availability. Therapists who use telehealth options can be entered as a filter in your search along with your location. There are a number of teletherapy sites that offer mental health services for a fee, such as Dial Care. Research by Chan, Parish, Yellowlees (2015) shows that telepsychiatry leads to high patient and provider satisfaction ratings and outcomes equivalent to in-person care, and younger generations often prefer telepsychiatry over face-to-face encounters. Local Mental Health Support includes:

Instituto Familiar de la Raza (IFR) provides health, wellness programs, and services supporting the San Francisco Latinx community. IFR’s programs span a continuum of mental health, HIV-related & social services, including health promotion & prevention, family support, early intervention, case management, violence prevention, comprehensive behavioral health services, and cultural activities and practices. In response to the shelter-in-place order, IFR continues to provide its full range of services through teleservices, and remains accessible and connected to the community. A central office number, 415-229-0500 is in place to provide access to an Officer of the Day for crisis or psychiatric services, and to prioritize face-to-face visits for new and current clients. Face-to-face visits must first be authorized by a supervisor and will follow DPH guidelines to minimize COVID-19 exposure. These services will be accessible through their central office at 2919 Mission Street, San Francisco by appointment only.

Our Team

Thank you to all of the members of our leadership team for being a part of these initiatives to support our community. We very much appreciate their time, sensitivity and energy:  Amani Allen, Durrain Ansari-Yan, Melissa Brown, Christina Chen, Mia Cooper, Julianna Deardorff, Amelia Dmowska, Jay Graham, Robin Hauschner, Gene Ho, Yash Huilgol, Quin Hussey, Susan Ivey, Joonie Kim, Sharon O’Hara, Emily Ozer, Teja Pattabhiraman, Janet Perlman, Nate Swetlitz, Lawrence Tello, Yasamin Vafai, Evan Van Dommelen-Gonzalez, and Yasmin Wofford.

If you are interested in joining our team, please let Lauren Goldstein know at