Let’s Make the Library Relaxing Again

Photos and Blog Post prepared by Kleo Fang, Wellness Assistant

On April 6, 2016, the Wellness Peers held ‘Lounging at the Library’ for Stress Less for Exam Success.

The Wellness Peers handed out free hot chocolate, tea and engaged in proactive mindfulness activities with students to de-stress before the start of exams.

 Adult coloring pages can be a great way to relax and distress during hectic exam seasons.

Balloons – great for tossing, popping, and all around entertainment.

“What do you do to take care of yourself?”

There are many types of meditation and yoga, including both spiritual and secular. Benefits of meditation and yoga include: increased relaxation, greater control of a busy mind or overwhelming emotions, and a stronger sense of awareness. Yoga is also great for both physical fitness and inner peace.
The Wellness Centre is staffed by trained student volunteers who have a passion for mental and physical health promotion.


Dory: Hey there, Mr. Grumpy Gills. When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do?
Always leave some time for fun!
Don’t forget a little sugar for yourself once in awhile.

You’re invited to the 2016 Mental Health Symposium!

Let’s talk about mental health.

MHS 2016 PostcardThe UBC Mental Health Symposium is an annual one-day event held in collaboration between Student Development & Services and the Mental Health Network.

On Saturday, February 27, you are invited to explore mental health groups and resources, participate in self-care activities and skills-based workshops, and increase your mental health literacy! Special guest AMS President Aaron Bailey will open the day and attendees will have the opportunity to network and seek opportunities for collaboration.

Register before Tuesday, February 23 at https://survey.ubc.ca/s/MHSregistration/ and join the conversation!

Looking for Student Participants!

Teaching Practices & Student Wellbeing Study

University can be stressful, but you probably already know that. It can also be an amazing and wonderful experience – and we want to make it even better by identifying ways that instructors promote student mental health and wellbeing through their teaching.

If you are an undergraduate Arts or Science student, we invite you to join a 90-minute focus group to share your thoughts and experiences about how instructors support mental health and wellbeing. We’ll provide lunch, PLUS all participants will get a $10 gift card to UBC food services.

Interested? Register online: survey.ubc.ca/s/TeachingPracticesStudy/

Focus groups times:

Join the Wellness Peers team!

It’s application season at UBC! Although the second term has barely started, it is already time to start thinking about what you want to be involved with next year. With such a large campus and so many involvement opportunities, it can be challenging to pick what you want to do. While we might be a little biased here at Healthy Minds, we think that joining the Wellness Peers team would be a great addition to your 2016-17 academic year!

The Wellness Peers are a group of dedicated UBC students who are passionate about promoting all facets of student wellness on campus. Wellness Peers are responsible for staffing the Wellness Centre and providing support to students through workshops, outreach, and digital media. Wondering if becoming a Wellness Peer is right for you? Here are some reasons that our current Wellness Peers decided to join the team.

Wellness Peers Rushat and Madi promoting consent at an outreach event!

Campbell: I had been involved with a few other things on campus prior to becoming a Wellness Peer, including working in Residence Life and with UBC Intramurals. However, my favourite part of both of these positions were providing support to students and giving insights into how to take care of their mental and physical health. Being a Wellness Peer allows me to do both of these things while working with a group of awesome student leaders who are also passionate about student wellbeing. I loved being on the team so much my first year that I returned this year as a team leader!

Mei: Having been involved in many short-term activities across campus, I wanted to be a part of a larger campus initiative that would support my learning and development of new skills. Being a Wellness Peer has become one of my most memorable campus experiences because it exposed me to a unique aspect of health and wellbeing that I would have never engaged in. What I love about my role is the chance to put everything we learn into practice at the Wellness Centre. I have yet to come across any other campus experiences throughout my four years at UBC that is as authentic and rewarding as the Wellness Peer program!

Katie: With such a large student body here at UBC, I was intent on finding ways to get involved in my first year of university, but was unable to find anything I could stick with. Luckily, I discovered Peer Programs and spent my second year as a Sustainability Ambassador and now my third year as a Wellness Peer. I love Peer Programs because it has given me the chance to work with a broad range of motivated students with the support and guidance of a university staff member. I’ve especially come to love being a Wellness Peer because I am able to expand my knowledge on health and wellness outside of the classroom and apply it in a very hands-on way.

Interested in promoting health and wellness at UBC? Apply to be a Wellness Peer now! Alternatively, you can help keep students healthy as a Peer Wellness Coach, or as an Emergency Medical Aid Team member. Be sure to get your application in by this Sunday, January 31st, at midnight!

Laci Green: Best Sex Ever!

written by Gunjan Mhapankar, Wellness Peer

When was the last time you gathered with over 500 students and had an open, no holds barred conversation about the safe and healthy exploration of sexuality while in college?

On Monday, September 28th, thanks to Laci Green, that’s exactly what I did. Laci Green is a public health educator and Youtube video-blogger. Her YouTube channel Sex Plus has over 1,000,000 subscribers and has been viewed in all 196 countries.

An animated and upbeat speaker, Laci spoke with a non-judgmental, self-assured ease and presented lots of useful information I never even knew I needed!

Below are some highlights from the event:

Best Sex Ever2
photo by Gunjan Mhapankar


Reproductive and sexual organs are perhaps the least talked about part of our anatomy. Not surprisingly, the most common questions sex educators answer are about sex anatomy. This includes the external and internal sex organs and the internal reproductive organs.


Best Sex Ever3
Photo by Gunjan Mhapankar

Many, especially young people, are often curious about where these body parts are, how they work, and if their body parts are “normal”. An important message that Laci emphasized was that it is okay to be different. The images of sexual organs on the internet are often misleading and can add to confusion and false expectations.

It is important to know that one woman’s sexual anatomy will look different from another woman’s, and one man’s sexual anatomy will look different from another man’s.


STI’s have considerable stigma associated with them. However, Laci argued that they should not be viewed with any more suspicion and distaste than any other disease in our body. However, STI’s can be prevented with safer sex practices and are often curable.

Best Sex Ever4
Photo by Gunjan Mhapankar

One of the best ways to prevent the transmission of STI’s is to get tested and use safer sex products such as condoms and dental dams. To make sure that everyone in the audience knew exactly how to properly use a condom, Laci and a volunteer from the audience performed a hilarious demonstration of how to put on a condom on a plastic model of a penis that I am sure we will never forget!


One of the highlights of Laci’s talk for me was her piece on consent. A huge part of consent is respecting each other’s boundaries and having open communication. Consent is freely given and enthusiastic. It is not given under pressure and is an ongoing process. Even after someone has given consent, they are allowed to change their minds.

Best Sex Ever5
Photo by Gunjan Mhapankar

This clear distinction can often get blurry when alcohol is involved. Here are some tips Laci mentioned when alcohol is involved:

  • In all cases consent requires active participation and ability to communicate.
  • Ongoing checking in with your partner.
  • Consent cannot be given when the person is sick, slurring or limp and unable to communicate clearly.

Positive phrases include:

  • “I like it when you…”
  • “Keep doing that”
  • “That feels nice”

Negative phrases to watch out for:

  • “No thanks”
  • “I’m not into that”
  • “I’m not sure”

The main message is that communication is key!

Overall, the talk was very educational and enjoyable! It was refreshing to be able to talk about sexual health in an open and non-judgmental way and I hope that this continues to encourage sex positive conversations on campus that are engaging, informative and empowering!

Stress Less for Exam Success

Hey everyone! With final assignments and papers due, and with exams just around the corner, it is easy to begin experiencing “stress.” I know I am! Ongoing, chronic stress can lead us to feeling overwhelmed or moody, and it can even affect our physical state.

That being said, stress does not always have to mean a bad thing! Stress is defined as a mental state of “high alert” that is turned on to deal with the pressures of unexpected or high demanding events, such as heavy workloads and pressure from deadlines. Stress reaction is meant to turn on to deal with a stressful event and then turn it off when that stressor ends. The problem is that for a lot of us, we forget to turn our stress off, which results in always operating on “high alert”. When we operate with a consistent and chronic stress response, we can begin to see wear and tear of stress on our bodies, and those negative effects we hear about. Thus, how we perceive and manage our stress plays an important role!

Earlier in the year I wrote a blog entitled “stress as a positive.” Generally, moderate levels of stress facilitate performance, which can be summarized by this graph…


Expanding on that idea, the way we perceive stress can not only change our definition of stress, but can actually have beneficial responses to our well-being. Kelly McGonigan presents a very interesting research in her Ted Talks video entitled “How to make stress your friend” (I won’t go into depth on this video, because you should definitely consider watching it yourself). In short, she describes that stress is only harmful to your health when it is perceived to be so. The way we perceive stress affects our unconscious interpretation of the stressor. For instance, we can perceive stress as telling us: “I’m so stressed right now…I’m gonna fail my exam” or  “this is my body’s responding to this exam,  so I will be sure to do what I can to feel prepared!”

The way we perceive stress is directly related to our self-efficacy, or our belief in our abilities. Improving self-efficacy can be achieved through performance accomplishments, vicarious experiences (observing others), verbal persuasion, and by altering  physiological states such as moods or emotions. Two effective means to boost your confidence include (1) positive self-talk and (2) goal setting. Setting attainable and realistic goals can lead to feeling accomplished when the goal is reached!

If you are having trouble with stress or are worried about final exams, UBC does provide several opportunities for students to manage their stress effectively! On the UBC live well learn well website several events are affiliated with the “Stress Less for Exam Success” campaign running from April 7-10. Activities range from Stress Doctors roaming in IKB, to Free Hugs and High Fives Events. The Live Well Learn Well website also cites several strategies that are helpful in managing stress, which includes taking breaks, talking to others, meditation, and breathing procedures.

photo (1)

Finally drop by the Wellness Centre (IKB room 183) during Stress Less to get a Stress Management Kit full of goodies like tea and post-it notes. Our Wellness Peers can also provide you with helpful stress management strategies. We will also have a Stress Ball Making Station where you can make and personalize your very own stress ball while kneading out some stress in the process!

During this exam season, study hard, take quality breaks and consider how you can use stress to your benefit!

Good luck!


Eat to Thrive! – Make Your Own Trail Mix

Need something to munch on to get you through that midday slump? Come visit our Eat to Thrive booth to make a healthy snack! We will have all the fix ins ready for you to make your own free trail mix!

When: Tuesday March 24 from 1-3pm

Where: Outside Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, SE corner

Flickr via Creative Commons
Flickr via Creative Commons

March is Nutrition Month! And, this year’s theme is all about Eating 9 to 5! which includes eating well on campus. Visit the Wellness Centre to learn more information on Nutrition Month and how to eat healthy!

Good Sex is Safer Sex: Drop-in STI testing on March 25

Have Good Sex - Web Graphics_500px

For those that are sexually active, it is important to remember that there are certain responsibilities attached to that decision. Good sex is safer sex, which includes getting consent (an enthusiastic and freely given “yes!”), using protection, and knowing your status by getting tested for sexually transmitted infections.

Get Tested: Pop in for a Test on March 25

Drop in for a STI test on March 25th from 2-4pm at Student Health Service, no appointment necessary, or make an appointment for a later date by calling: 604-822-7011.

Know your status

It is very unlikely for symptoms to be apparent for the majority of people infected. There is great risk here as individuals can pass on an infection unknowingly. The only way to know for sure if you have an STI is to get tested. If an STI is detected, treating it early can prevent further health complications.

Testing is quick and easy

There are no painful swabs or invasive procedures. Student Health Services tests for chlamydiagonorrheasyphilis, and HIV by using both blood and urine samples. The urine samples require that you hold off on urinating for 2 hours before your appointment, which may require some planning, but it ensures an accurate test.

The test will begin with a short consultation with a doctor about your sexual history.The test is free for almost all UBC students. Remember to bring your UBC student card as well as your coverage card. Coverage and possible fees will also be discussed during the consultation period with the doctor. Results are delivered over the phone; the clinic will only call you if there is a positive result which usually occurs within a week. The test is fully confidential and your results will only be shared with you.

If you would like more information regarding STI testing or any other sexual health information, visit the UBC Wellness Center located in the basement of IKB and speak with a Wellness Peer or visit the Live Well website.

UBC’s Largest Yoga Class

2015_JM_Largest Yoga Web GraphicGive yourself a study break and join UBC’s Largest Yoga Class at the SRC gyms! The class will be taking place on Friday February 27th from 12:00pm-1:00pm. 

Did we mention that it’s free?! 

Physical activity, including yoga, can be a great way to build positive mental health, feel good, and help you achieve your goals. Mats will be available at the recreation centre front desk, but numbers are limited – so bring your own if you have one!



Musings of a Wellness Peer

Let’s take a small detour from the life centres that I have mentioned in my previous posts (read this in case you’ve forgotten) and talk about another Centre: Wellness Centre. 
The UBC Wellness Centre is now accepting applications for Wellness Peers! 

2014-12-05 12.22.46

What Wellness Peers do:
The mission for Wellness Peers is to enhance campus wellbeing at UBC and we do this by: (1) Delivering responsive service at the Wellness Centre, (2) Working within a team to help raise awareness on health topics and resources, and (3) Role model student leadership on campus.
Together, we try to promote a holistic approach to healthy living by providing peer-to-peer support. And this is where you come in. If this is something that you think you would really like to do, this can be an excellent opportunity for you to make an impact on students’ wellness. Here are some helpful steps in applying for this position:
  1. Review the Position Description. This is a key step to learn more information about the role and if this is a great fit with your interests, skills and values.
  2. Complete the Online Application available on the page above, along with the other documents (Resume, Written reflection). When completing the online application, take some time to thoughtfully answer and reflect on why you might be interested in this position.
  3. Attend the Open House scheduled for this week of January 26th-30th. Attending is not a requirement but it is encouraged. This is a great opportunity for you to learn about the role, the expectations but also talk to current peers!
  4. Don’t forget to apply before the deadline. The deadline to apply for new peers is February 2nd at 11:59pm.
Why I like being a Wellness Peer.
Knowledge. Wellness peers undergo rigorous training to familiarize themselves with concepts focusing on student wellbeing and resources. I have picked up an immense amount of information on popular topics such as nutrition, mental well-being, and sexual health while providing students with on-campus and off-campus health resources.
Giving back. There is a certain accomplishment in knowing that you’re making a difference, even if it is the life of a single student at a time. I like being that support, and having access to resources that can assist students to making better decisions when it comes to their health.
Camaraderie. There is a wonderful sense of community among the wellness peers who are driven by their enthusiasm for student wellbeing. I learn something new from my peers every day, and it their passion that motivates me to do my best.
A UBC Wellness Centre haiku, because why not!                                                                
We ask tough questions,                                                                                                  
We challenge preconceptions,                                                                                    
Your health’s our mission.
In general, being a Wellness Peer is a continuous learning experience. At the same time, it is an ongoing opportunity to further connect and learn with our fellow peers at UBC about some very relevant health and wellness. If you are interested in these aspects of personal and campus development, please do apply! I love meeting like-minded individuals and the possibility of working with you this upcoming academic year.

ADHD and Academic Success: Tips and Strategies Workshop

ADHD Workshop Web Banner - 2015-01

You can manage ADHD and achieve academic success.

Two-part workshop, free for UBC students

Part one: Thursday, January 29, 2015: 4:15 – 6:00 PM
Part two: Thursday, February 5, 2015: 4:15 – 6:00 PM
Brock Hall, 1874 East Mall | Room 2001
Hosted by Counselling Services and Access and Diversity
Please register for this event

This workshop is designed to help students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and will explore topics like time management, dealing with procrastination, using self-care to stay balanced, and working with your strengths.

The event is free but has limited space so be sure to register early!

Positive Paint Party! – Aim for Positivity


The Wellness Centre’s Wellness Balance team will be hosting its first event of the school year! All students, faculty and staff are welcome to attend.


Positive Paint Party!

There will be balloons filled with paint attached to a large canvas and everyone can throw darts to pop the balloons creating an art piece. We will also have smaller canvases available for individuals to paint on their own or work with a friend.

Flickr via Creative Commons
Flickr via Creative Commons


Thursday November 20th, from 12pm-2pm.


Main Mall, near the fountain, between Neville Scarfe and Biological Sciences Buildings

Flickr via Creative Commons
Flickr via Creative Commons


In addition to having some fun creating art with your peers, this event is put on to educate, promote and provide a space for positive self-care. We will provide you all with information on the importance of self-positivity and taking time for oneself. You will also learn about the mental benefits of incorporating creativity into your academic and personal lives. Finally, we will provide you with some tips on how to maintain a positive self-image!

Hope you all can make it,

The Wellness Peers


Eat to Thrive

UBC Wellness Peers will be putting on “Eat to Thrive” Information Booth this Thursday as part of Thrive Week! Come by to learn about what you can do to help balance your mental health through making alternative choices with your diet. There will be an interactive game aimed at helping you learn more about feel good foods, healthy easy-to-make recipes to pick up, as well as mason jar burritos to take away (made by you with available ingredients at the booth)!

We will be in front of the Wellness Centre (1st floor, IKBLC) from 11am-2pm on Thursday November 5th! 

See you there!

Flickr via Creative Commons
Flickr via Creative Commons

Treat Yourself!

The Wellness Centre’s Sexual Health Team is throwing an event surrounding good decision making. Come play jeopardy and learn about ways to have fun this Halloween by planning ahead and staying safe. P.S. there will be free cookies!


Monday October 27th

10am – 2pm


Irving K. Barber, 2nd floor


Mental Health and Innovate youBC Culture Projects

Update March 22, 2014: Application deadline extended! See below for details*.

On February 1, 2014, over 80 students, staff, faculty and community members came together to discuss UBC’s campus culture and how it supports and, at times, hinders mental health and well-being. At the 4th Annual Mental Health Symposium: Innovate youBC Culture, we explored a variety of themes related to campus culture including academic competition, intercultural understanding, and community building. We are excited to share the highlights from the day and an exciting funding opportunity for attendees.

Panelists engage in dialogue about our campus culture.

Continue reading “Mental Health and Innovate youBC Culture Projects”

If You’re Going to Have Sex…

I never quite understood just how positive and empowering good sex could be until my first clinic visit for sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing. Once I got tested, I understood how knowing my status could help me feel comfortable and confident with my partners and teach me how I could help them do the same. So now I tell everyone who will listen not only about how important STI testing is, but also how great it can be! This is why we at The Wellness Centre have teamed up with Student Health Services to promote on campus drop in STI testing on Wednesday March 12th, from 2-4 pm. Continue reading “If You’re Going to Have Sex…”

Healthy Elements Wellness Fair

Next Friday, the Wellness CentreSUSUBC SCI Team, and UBC REC are joining together to put on our annual Science wellness event.

This year the theme is Healthy Elements, and we are inviting you to join us in exploring all eight elements of a healthy lifestyle. Each of these elements will be represented by a different campus group with a booth offering resources and information on its importance, as well as advice on how to incorporate it into your busy life. Oh, and did I mention there will be pancakes, parfaits and popcorn?

: Friday, February 7th from 10 am- 12:30 pm
Where: Outside AND inside of Abdul Ladha
Cost: Absolutely FREE
Why: Because what better way to kick-start your weekend than breakfast and a wellness fair?

Stop by for a fresh smoothie courtesy of UBC REC’s bike blender, then head inside for a full breakfast of pancakes and parfaits, as well as an exciting, interactive wellness fair! You can even enter your name in a draw to win cool prizes including free registration for UBC REC events, or a Magic Bullet!

Although the fair is geared towards Science students everyone is invited, so grab a friend and drop by during your break or even between classes.

Innovate youBC Culture – 2014 MH Symposium

*Update: January 22, 2014 – We have reached full capacity for the Symposium. You are welcome to register for the event; however, you will be added to our waitlist and we will confirm your attendance by Wednesday, January 29.

On Saturday, February 1st, students, staff, faculty, community members, and parents will be coming together to engage in a dialogue that raises awareness and fosters collaborative action toward a shift in campus culture that values and supports mental well-being. 

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When: Saturday, February 1st, 9 am to 4:30 pm
Where: Brock Hall
Cost: FREE (a hot lunch will be provided)  Continue reading “Innovate youBC Culture – 2014 MH Symposium”