Roger Wilson, Director of Health and Wellness, discusses the trends that he’s noticed in mental health over the years, as well as the services offered at UBCO.
The UBC Okanagan Health and Wellness Centre provides a myriad of services for students. These services include, but are not limited to, counselling for mental health. According to the UBC Okanagan Health and Wellness Counselling website, counsellors are available to “provide a space for you to examine and explore behaviors, relationships, feelings or thoughts which cause you concern or challenges” that any student may be facing. This website is informative and is kept up to date.
This year UBC Okanagan is offering a stepped care approach to counselling. In a student’s first visit with a counsellor, the website states that a counsellor “will meet with you to clarify your current needs and/or goals. With your counsellor’s support, you will develop an individualized plan to improve your overall well-being.” Also, an important component of many treatment plans includes asking you to access appropriate resources.” This means that a student may need to learn more about mental health challenges through “online and printed educational resources” and the student may be “advised to incorporate new tools, activities, and strategies into your day in order to promote greater resilience and mental wellness.” In some cases, “campus resources offered by professional and/or student staff may be beneficial,” while in other instances, “workshops and groups on campus may also be available to address individuals’ mental health needs.” However, Health and Wellness keeps in mind that “one-on-one support from a therapist or counsellor” may be the best fit. In cases like this, the counsellors may discuss the “individual counselling options in the community and on campus” to “determine the best fit.”
Roger Wilson, the director of Health and Wellness, has worked at UBC Okanagan since 2006 as a counsellor and became director of Health and Wellness in 2012. Roger stresses the importance of maintaining good mental health. If a student comes in and needs counselling, there is the option to see somebody right away or to book an appointment for a future date. Roger states that there are six of seven walk-in spots available for students every day if they would like to be seen as soon as possible. They have one spot available every hour from 10:00am on. Roger also made it clear that if “it is urgent, or the student is in distress,” the counselling centre makes an effort to see them right away. Roger noted that if a student has extended health care coverage through their student union, their job or their parents depending on how able they are to access it, the counselling centre does encourage its use. With the UBCSUO extended health plan, students can access up to three visits of counselling with a Registered Clinical Counsellor in the local community.
“Roger spoke to the fact that in each of the last two years, they see a ‘quarter of the student population in Health and Wellness and about 40% of these student visits are for mental or emotional health reasons’”
As he has been working with the UBCO Health and Wellness for over ten years, Roger has noticed certain trends that have emerged, specifically within UBCO, in regard to mental health. Roger notes that there is “a wave [of students], typically mid-October to mid-November” of students coming in “in distress.” He then states that Health and Wellness remains busy until exam period ends. This trend continues into second semester as well. Roger has noticed that generally, January is less busy, but there is an increase of students seeking help towards the end of that month. After the reading break when many students go home, Roger noted after this their workload will “continue to build in momentum, until the end of classes.” In the years that he has been working here, Wilson has also noticed that there are peaks and valleys for students coming in to ask for help. In recent years, he has noticed that “the peaks are coming sooner,” than they have in the past.
Roger spoke to the fact that they see a “quarter of the student population in Health and Wellness, in the last two years,” with the majority of students coming in being between the ages of 18-21. Last year, the largest age group they saw was the 18-19-year old’s, and the 19-20-year old’s being the next largest, which are the same figures from the school year prior to that. Wilson also offered up more statistics about last year’s Health and Wellness. Last year, 31% of students were seen on the same day they came in for counselling, 39% were seen within a day, 47% within two days, and 53% within three days. Roger stated that while they “do try to see students within two to three days,” this year there is a slight change with the stepped care model, and he noted that it is important to keep in mind that much like other student support services, appointments can get booked up in advance.
Roger also states that he “fully believes in the importance of understanding oneself,” and thinks that counselling is a great vehicle in which to do so. Roger says that he is “in [his] own personal therapy,” and has been for the last two and a half years. He says that “it’s probably one of the best things [he’s] done,” to “understand [himself] better and understand how [he] relates to others,” as well as “how to be more effective as a human being.” He thinks that if people have the opportunity to go to counselling, they should take it. Mental health does not stop being important after university, and Roger stated that “it doesn’t all end with a textbook,” and mental health continues to be important throughout a person’s life.
If you have any questions or would like to call or make an appointment, you can visit the UBC Okanagan Health and Wellness website at http://students.ok.ubc.ca/health-wellness/counselling.html