Health Wellness

Student Health and Wellbeing

Assisting Students in Distress

Recognize Signs of Distress

You may be the first person to see signs that a student is in distress or they may come to you specifically for help. Use this folder to familiarize yourself with common signs of distress, from mild to severe, and the steps you can take to offer assistance.

Reach Out and Refer

Your role is not to diagnose or treat students, but you are in a position to make them aware of the help available. Early intervention plays a key role in helping students get back on track.

Access Expert Advice When Needed

There may be times when you need more advice about how to support a student in distress. For more severe and urgent concerns, you can consult with:
UBC Student Health Service 604.822.7011
UBC Counselling Services 604.822.3811

Having a Conversation With a Student in Distress

1. If You’ve Reached Out to the Student

• Be specific about the signs and behaviours that you’ve noticed > "I've noticed you've missed the last two midterms."
• Express your concern > "I am concerned and wanted to check in to see how you're doing."
• Reassure the student, who may be struggling, that it's 100% OK to reach out for help from UBC faculty and staff

If a Student Doesn’t Want Help

• Respect their decision. Accepting or refusing assistance must be left up to the student, except in emergencies
• Don’t force the issue or pressure them into going to a referred resource
• Try to leave room for reconsideration later on > "If you change your mind you can always access the resources I've provided to you."

2. Respond With Empathy and Normalize Stress

• Listen actively to help the student feel heard and understood > "It sounds like you're facing a lot of difficulties in your life right now."
• When stress seems related to academic pressures, acknowledge that stress is a normal part of the university experience

3. Ask Open-ended Questions:

• Giving students an opportunity to talk often has a calming effect and helps to clarify their concerns
• What have you tried so far?
• What do you think the main challenge is?
• Do you have the support that you need?

4. Discuss Resource Options

• Point out that help is available; while seeking help can feel difficult, it is a sign of strength
• Provide the student with information about resources and support
• Encourage the student to identify the next steps they plan to take

Connect to Resources

Imminent Risk of Harm

• Active thoughts of suicide with a plan or suicide attempt
• Behaviour that is violent, destructive, aggressive, or threatening to self or others
• Student is confused, hallucinating, or has trouble remaining conscious

Steps to Take:

1. Take student to the nearest hospital – Call 911
2. Call UBC Campus Security 604.822.2222

High Level of Distress

• Deterioration in personal appearance and hygiene and significant impairment with daily tasks
• Expressions of severe hopelessness or references to suicide
• Self-harm behaviour such as recent cutting or hitting, severely restricted eating with weight loss/severe binge eating
• Substance use concerns
• Loss of touch with reality/severely disorganized thinking
• Physical health concerns

Resources and Supports: 24/7

Urgent Care, UBC Hospital 604.822.7121 (until 10 pm) or nearest hospital emergency department
Access and Assessment Centre, VGH 604.675.3700 (24 hours)
Crisis Centre 1.800.784.2433,
During office hours:
UBC Student Health Service 604.822.7011 or student’s family doctor or nearest medical clinic

All Other Mental Health Concerns

• Low or irritable mood with change in energy, appetite, sleep, and/or concentration, which is impacting daily functioning
• Persistent worry, obsessions, agitation, irrationality, racing thoughts, panic attacks
• Flashbacks to a traumatic event, intrusive memories and thoughts
• Interpersonal conflict
• Lack of social support
• Disordered eating

Resources and Supports: 24/7

Empower Me 1.844.741.6389 (toll-free, 24 hours) Call for free life coaching or counselling including evenings and weekends
Mind Health BC Take an online mental health assessment and find resources
First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Helpline 1.855.242.3310,
Health Link BC Check physical health symptoms online and find resources
During office hours:
• Counselling Services 1040 Brock Hall Walk in to book an appointment with a Wellness Advisor for assessment and referral to the most appropriate level of support

General Support

• Stress about exams, deadlines, grades, roommates, relationships, finances, adjustment to university
• Advice about healthy eating, sleep, or sexual health

Resources and Supports: 24/7

Empower Me 1.844.741.6389 (toll-free, 24 hours) Call for free life coaching or counselling

Wellness Resources for Students

In-person Wellness Information in the UBC Life Building

Wellness Peers: Drop in to talk to a trained peer at the Wellness Centre, 10 am - 5 pm, Monday - Friday (closed at 4 pm on Tuesday)
Nurse on Campus: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 12 pm - 2 pm and Tuesday 10 am -12 pm

Online Tools Take an online mental health assessment and find resources. Check physical health symptoms and find resources. Learn and access mental health and substance use resources. Find resources organized by topic.

Coaching, Wellness Advising, and Counselling

Empower Me: (1-844-741-6389, toll-free), 24/7 free multilingual counselling or life coaching in person, by phone or online.
Counselling Services: Room 1040 Brock Hall. Drop in to book an assessment with a Wellness Advisor, Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 8:30 am - 3:30 pm; Wednesday from 8:30 am - 6 pm; Thursday from 10 am - 3:30 pm

Sexual Violence Support

Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (604-822-1588) Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm,

Medical Care

Student Health Service in the UBC Hospital (604-822-7011) Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, 8 am - 4 pm; Wednesday, 8 am - 8 pm; Thursday 9 am - 4 pm
Your family doctor or a walk-in clinic. Look up wait times at nearby walk-in medical clinics at

Urgent Mental Health Support

Urgent Care at UBC Hospital: 8 am to 10 pm daily
Crisis Centre BC (24/7): 1-800-784-2433,
Vancouver residents can go to Vancouver General Hospital's Access and Assessment Centre: (604-675-3700) 7:30 am -11 pm daily,
Emergency Services (24/7): Call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency department.


Where Can I Learn More?

• Visit the Wellness Centre in the UBC Life Building to talk to a Wellness Peer about stress and coping strategies, taking care of your physical and mental health, and resources on and off-campus.
• The Wellness Centre offers workshops on a wide range of wellbeing topics. You can attend as an individual or book one for your group.
Registered nurses from UBC Student Health Service set up booths around campus each week, where you can get personalized tips, resources, and health advice.
Headspace is an app to learn to meditate and live mindfully (App store or Google Play). is an interactive tool to help people with depression and low mood.

Who is Eligible for "Empower Me"?

Empower Me (1-844-741-6389) provides counselling and life coaching, free for students on the AMS/GSS Health Plan.
• If you are not part of the AMS/GSS Health Plan, your extended health insurance may cover a similar type of service.

What Happens When I Drop in to See a Wellness Advisor at Counselling Services?

• If you're feeling persistently stressed, anxious, or sad, you can make an appointment with a Wellness Advisor.
• When you drop-in to Counselling Services, you can book a same-day appointment with a Wellness Advisor, based on availability.
• Wellness Advisors are Masters-level counsellors who meet students for a one-time 15 - 20 minute assessment.
• They'll listen to your needs and connect you with resources to best help you reach your goals. This could include self-directed resources, workshops, and coaching, group therapy, or individual therapy.
• Learn more:

What is Available for St. Mark's College Graduate Students?

• All of the resources listed on this handout are available for graduate students.
• The Wellness Centre has graduate Wellness Peers.

What is Available for Indigenous Students?

• In addition to all of the resources listed on this handout, Indigenous students can access support from counsellors at the First Nations Longhouse.
• 24/7 support is available from the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Helpline and Online Chat: 1-855-242-3310,

How Can I Help a Friend?

• Ask "how can I help?" Sometimes just listening is all that's needed.
• Find the right contact for your concern and resources:
• Be aware of observable signs and symptoms that indicate the need for immediate medical intervention (below).

When Should I Call 911?

If you, or someone you know, experiences these signs, seek medical help right away:
• Active thoughts of suicide with a plan or suicide attempt.
• Loss of touch with reality, hallucinations or disorganized thinking.
• Experiencing an alcohol or other drug overdose or trouble remaining conscious.
• Immediate concerns about yourself or another person's safety.

launchPrintable Wellness Resources

Emergency Contacts

Emergency Call 9-1-1

(Fire, Ambulance, Police)
AMS SafeWalk: 604-822-5355
Hazardous Materials Response: 911
UBC Hospital Urgent Care: 604-822-7662
Poison Control Centre: 604-682-5050

Report an Incident

Complete this form to notify The Office of the Dean of Students about alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
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