This year, Mental Health Day took place on October 10, 2019, in the midst of midterm season for UBCO students and just over a month since UBC President Santa Ono came forward in an interview about his own mental health journey.
In the recent interview with Global News, Santa Ono opened up about his life as a student at university, noting that some days were very happy but other days were a struggle to even get out of bed. During his time at university, Ono attempted to take his own life.
“I think that when I was in university, there are many things that were conspiring to exacerbate my situation. I did not eat properly. I was probably undernourished, I didn’t sleep very well,” Ono told Global News.
After a long journey of medication and therapy, Santa Ono made a full recovery. Now as UBC’s President, Ono uses his past experience to ensure that UBC students have suitable access to mental health resources.
UBC Okanagan has a number of different counselling services available to students. Counselling through UBCO Health & Wellness can be booked by calling 250-807-9270, but they also accept walk-in appointments from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Third Space Mind offers free professional counselling in conjunction with the UBCSUO, and they can be contacted by calling 236-420-4360 or accessing their website. In addition, UBCO’s Psychology Department runs a barrier-free walk-in mental health clinic on Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
For 24/7 support, UBCO students can access Studentcare’s EmpowerMe services online.
UBC Okanagan also has a long list of clubs and support groups that provide students with community and positive activities for wellness. Some of these groups include BARK, UBCO Run Club, UBCO Art Hive, Community Wellness for International Students and the Mental Health Awareness and Advocacy Club.
These services and clubs act as a good foundation for mental health support at UBCO. However, lots of students still feel ashamed to open up or seek help. Santa Ono speaking up about his own mental health journey serves as a reminder to students that they are not alone in their struggles, and it also serves as proof that through time, and proper support, things can get better.
While it is brave that individuals like Santa Ono can spearhead the conversation about mental health, campus resources as well as annual initiatives such as Mental Health Day are crucial for continuing this important conversation.