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Wellness Program

The goal of UC Irvine School of Medicine's Wellness Program is to help students to cope with the unique challenges they face in medical school.

According to a recent study, students enter medical school with mental health profiles similar to their peers from college. But as they progress, they begin to show higher rates of mental distress.

Many studies examining U.S. medical schools have shown that medical students have significantly higher levels of anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

Recognizing this, UC Irvine School of Medicine's Wellness Program has created several avenues to promote wellness in ways that may fit your particular needs.

We offer:

  • Individual counseling with a psychiatrist on site
  • Individual therapy and therapy groups through the student counseling center
  • Group meetings with peers.
  • A wellness workshop at the annual Student-Faculty Retreat
  • A mentorship program that enlists older students to mentor younger students

We want to connect you with the resources you need on your path through medical school.

Individual Counseling Options »

Dr. Tina Allee is the onsite psychiatrist available for individual counseling for the students. She is an adult psychiatrist who works in private practice in costa mesa. She will be available through email for appointments with all four classes.

She will meet with students in the med ed building in room 3113 or through video conferencing.

Email her to make an appointment at -

Please note that email should be used just for scheduling to protect privacy.

Reasons to Seek Counseling »

There are many reasons a medical student may want to consider counseling. They may include:

  • Abusive relationships
  • Academic performance
  • Alcohol/substance use/abuse
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Body image concerns
  • Career planning worries
  • Depression
  • Family issues
  • Friend issues
  • Loneliness/isolation
  • Relationship issues
  • Roommate conflicts
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Sexual orientation/gender identity
  • Sexual assault/rape
  • Sleep problems
  • Stress

Treatment options available onsite

  • Career planning
  • Conflict resolution
  • Individual therapy for coping skills
  • Medication management
  • Processing a difficult or sad patient interaction
  • Psychoeducation
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Stress management
  • Supportive counseling
  • Training in deep breathing, meditation and progressive muscle relation
Confidentiality »

Be assured that everything you discuss — even the fact that you have an appointment — is fully confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone, including UC Irvine medical school administrators.

The only time that reporting of mental health information is mandatory is when someone is expressing the desire to harm to himself or herself or someone else.

There is a separate entrance and exit to Room 3113 of the Medical Education Building, so that people who are waiting will not see you.

Costs »

Each medical student is allowed eight (8) free appointments a year to determine his or her need for counseling — or simply to check in.

Services at the UC Irvine Counseling Center are free and are not associated with health insurance coverage. These services are available to all registered UC Irvine students.

Annual Wellness Retreat »

The yearly retreat takes place at Lake Arrowhead in the nearby San Bernardino mountains. All UC Irvine medical students are invited to attend.

Activities at the retreat include:

  • Multidisciplinary academic/occupational workshops
  • Team-building exercises
  • Large group competitive activity

There are also social activities, including dancing with a DJ, as well as plenty of free time to relax.

Group Therapy »

Process group goals

There are two goals we aim to achieve with each process group:

  • First, the group activity helps students to feel less isolated and to learn that they are coping with the same issues as many other students in their class.
  • The second goal is to promote a culture where we openly support each other and care about each other's mental health. Physicians often feel a stigma about sharing their struggles, which creates a cycle of isolation and shame — a cycle we want to help you break.


Mentoring »

We have a peer mentors program and second, third and fourth year medical students are trained to support younger students.  Bio and contact information is emailed out each year about the current peer mentors.

Treatment Resources »

Meditation/Relaxation Techniques

Roger Walsh, a UC Irvine professor of psychiatry, philosophy and anthropology, as well as a professor in the religious studies program, has compiled audio clips of guided meditations and relaxation techniques. You can find them on his website, ›

UC Irvine also has an extensive audio/video library that includes guides for breathing exercises, mediations, physical exercises and much more. Find these videos at ›

Other sources

Mood Gym, an online workbook based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, is also an excellent resource you can use at home. Developed for medical interns, Mood Gym provides tools to cope with depression and anxiety. Find Mood Gym at ›

There also are some iPhone apps that many people find beneficial. These include:

  • Head Space, an app that focuses on teaching meditation and mindfulness in 10 minutes a day 
  • Moodkit, an app developed by psychologists to help improve mood

Psychiatric Care

If you are interested in psychiatric health care, services are also available at the Student Health Center.  Please see more information at “Medical Students and Treatment” 


'Do I Have Depression or Anxiety?' »

Are you uncertain whether or not you want to reach out for help?

The screening tools below may be useful to help you decide.

The Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) questionnaire and Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) are short surveys that ask you about thoughts and feelings you have been having during the previous two weeks.

It is important to note that these surveys should be used only as tools that can help you assess whether you are having symptoms of anxiety or depression. Even if you scored 0 on these tests, you may still feel like you want to talk to a counselor. If so, you should absolutely reach out and make an appointment. Hopefully these tools can help you to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

View and download the GAD-7 ›

View and download the PHQ-9 ›

Interpreting your results

You can interpret your score on the GAD-7 as follows:

  • If you scored 0-4, your anxiety severity is none to minimal.
  • If you scored 5-9, you have mild anxiety.
  • If you scored 10-14, you have moderate anxiety.
  • If you scored 15 or higher, you have severe anxiety.

If you scored above 4, it would be beneficial for you to speak with a counselor.

The table below can be used as a guideline to interpret your score on the PHQ-9, which assesses depression. If you score above 4, it would be beneficial for you to speak with a counselor.

PHQ-9 Score Depression Severity Proposed Treatment
0-4 None-minimal None
5-9 Mild Watchful waiting; repeat PHQ-9 at follow-up.
10-14 Moderate Treatment plan: Consider counseling, follow-up and/or pharmacotherapy.
15-19 Moderately Severe Active treatment with pharmacotherapy and/or psychotherapy.
20-27 Severe Immediate initiation of pharmacotherapy and, if severe impairment or poor response to therapy, expedited referral to a mental-health specialist for psychotherapy and/or collaborative management.

Table is from Kroenke K, Spitzer RL, Psychiatric Annals 2002;32:509-521

Additional Resources »

Here are additional resources you may want to contact for more information and support:

Wellness Videos »

Alyssa Ashbaugh, MS4 and certified yoga instructor, has recorded yoga classes to promote the mental and physical wellbeing of the UCI School of Medicine community. Here we have posted 5, 15, 30, and 45 minute classes so that you have options to choose from that fit best with your busy schedules! Whether you are new to yoga or practice regularly, we encourage you to try them out and hope you enjoy!

5 min yoga

15 min yoga

30 min yoga

45 min yoga

Emergency Crisis Grant »

SOM Emergency Crisis Grant: 
The SOM has introduced a new emergency crisis grant, available (on a rolling basis) to students who are experiencing an unexpected financial hardship and do not have other feasible means (family, loans) of obtaining funds. Grant applications are accepted on an ongoing basis: link 

Coaching »

From Dr. Strich:

"Coaching is the most effective way to develop a growth mindset, achieve your goals and improve performance. The best way to understand what coaching is, is to know what it isn't. Coaching is not therapy or a substitute for therapy. Coaching is also not consulting or mentoring or teaching.

In coaching, the client is considered the expert in their own life. Since every client is unique, with their own history, experiences, and personal strengths and weaknesses there is no "one-size-fits-all" pathway to their desired outcome. The assumption in coaching is that every client is naturally creative, resourceful, and whole, and infinitely capable. The International Coach Federation defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

What to Expect: Typically, a coaching engagement lasts at least three months, with 2 to 3 thirty-minute Zoom sessions per month. You decide on the topic for each session, and through a process of questioning and reflection we explore your goal or desired outcome and you come up with a strategy and specific steps that you can take to reach your goal. All of our conversations are completely confidential and will not be shared with anyone unless you request it. Either one of us can terminate the coaching engagement at any time if you feel it’s not beneficial, or if I feel that you don’t have the appropriate commitment to make progress.

To sign up for an initial strategy session please go to my website at and click on “Free 30 Minute Discovery Call.” That will take you to a form where you can fill in some details that will be helpful to us and then to my booking site where you can schedule your call. If you have any questions, you can email me at I look forward to supporting you on your journey."