Health and Wellbeing
By Breeonne Baxter on January 23, 2017
UBC’s Suicide Awareness Day is Jan. 25, 2017. Each year, this day is held to bring awareness to the UBC campus community regarding suicide prevention by educating students, staff and faculty on the resources available to them on campus.
As heads and leaders at UBC, we ask that you help us to start a conversation about suicide prevention with everyone in the University community.
Most people who take their own lives show some signs that they are thinking about it beforehand. As a head of unit, we encourage you to learn how to reach out in case you have colleagues or students in need of support.
Learn about the warning signs for suicide at http://thrive.ubc.ca/prevent-suicide/.
Assisting students in distress involves three basic principles: See, say, and do something.
See something: Pay attention to warning signs
You may be the first person to see signs that a student is in distress. It’s important to pay attention to warning signs. Mental health concerns can have a significant impact on everyday life, including academics.
Say something: Trust your instincts
Say something if you’re worried about a student or if they leave you feeling concerned. It’s okay to share your concerns about a student with someone else at the University in order to provide the student with support.
Do something: Reach out and help
A student may not know help is available or may hesitate to ask for it. Connect the student with resources and identify your concerns using Early Alert.
- Download Printable guides to helping students in distress: Green Folder (Vancouver campus) | Blue Folder (Okanagan campus)
Supporting your colleagues in distress involves similar principles to supporting students:
See Something: Recognize visible changes in behavior
If you see behaviour that is out of character or unusual for your colleagues, know that early intervention plays a key role in recovery from mental health challenges.
Say Something: Respond with concern and empathy
Often we may notice changes in behaviour, but are unsure how to approach a person having difficulties. Reaching out to a colleague shows care and concern, and opens a dialogue to check how they are doing.
Do Something: Refer your colleague to available resources
Staff and faculty may not be aware of the wide range of support services available to them, or may be hesitant to ask for help. There are ways to connect your colleagues to resources, or to learn about them together.
If you or a colleague are experiencing an emergency or crisis and require immediate counselling services, call UBC’s EFAP provider, Shepell, at 1-800-387-4765 and select the emergency option to speak to a crisis counsellor. More information on UBC’s Employee & Family Assistance Program at http://hr.ubc.ca/efap/.
Empowering yourself with knowledge and taking advantage of support can help you become more resilient when faced with challenges. http://thrive.ubc.ca/get-help/
Other Ways to Raise Awareness for Suicide Prevention at UBC
Wear orange: Wear orange on Jan. 25 to show your support for those whose lives have been affected by the suicide of friends, family members, students, or colleagues, and to show that you want to reach out to those who are considering suicide. http://thrive.ubc.ca/2017/01/09/suicide-awareness/
Take the Suicide Myths and Facts Quiz: Knowing the facts is an important part of raising suicide awareness, preventing suicide, and combating stigma. Test your knowledge by taking the quiz.
Learn more about how to prevent suicide: If you need help for yourself or if you are concerned about someone else, reach out and help prevent suicide: http://thrive.ubc.ca/prevent-suicide/
In-person trainings: Sign up for Suicide Prevention Training (QPR), or arrange a QPR training session in your unit.
By Breeonne Baxter on October 20, 2016
By Breeonne Baxter on September 6, 2016
Welcome back, everyone, to a new school year!
The beginning of the new academic year brings a feeling of promise and excitement at the University. The energy and spirit our students bring back to campus is one of the best and most rewarding reasons to be part of the UBC community.
This year will be a momentous one as we continue to build a strong community with this year’s new and returning students, faculty, and staff. There will be lots of opportunities for growth and for change, and it is important for us all to support one another but also ourselves – in that light, I encourage you to take advantage of some of UBC’s wellbeing offerings:
- Students: Take the wellbeing quiz and learn how to support different areas of your health
- Faculty & Staff: Learn about the Wellbeing Initiative at the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses, and find out about health and wellbeing courses and events for faculty and staff.
We wish all UBC students the best for a great year ahead, and a bright future!
– Lisa Castle, UBC Vice President Human Resources
By Breeonne Baxter on April 13, 2016
UBC Human Resources and UBC Recreation invite you to join us at UBC’s Staff & Faculty Sports Day, on May 6, 2016.
Sports Day is a free, fun event for staff and faculty to build teamwork and celebrate the end of the school year by taking part in physical and intellectual challenges with colleagues, with a free lunch! As part of UBC’s Centennial year, we will have activities to celebrate UBC’s impact over the last 100 years.
- Managers/Directors/Heads: Please encourage your staff and faculty to take part in Sports Day – sign up as a team or an individual, or show up to cheer on your colleagues.
- Faculty & Staff: Take a break in your workday to take part in this community-building event, designed to bolster your physical and mental wellbeing.
- Volunteers: Want to lend a hand at Sports Day? Sign up to volunteer with set-up (on May 5) and the event itself (on May 6) at http://www.recreation.ubc.ca/sportsday/volunteer/.
Be sure to register by April 29, 2016, as space is limited: http://www.recreation.ubc.ca/sportsday/.
See you at Sports Day!
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Last Year’s Sports Day Impact
In 2015, 399 staff and faculty participated in Sports Day.
50 UBC departments (plus staff from the Alma Mater Society) took part.
Respondents believed that Sports Day had a positive or significantly positive impact on:
- their teammates (96.5%)
- their sense of belonging to UBC (89.6%)
- their sense of belonging to their team (94.8%)
- themselves as an individual (87.9%)
- their physical wellbeing (72.4%)
- their mental wellbeing (91.4%)
When asked, 2015 Sports Day participants said that they believed Sports Day significantly promoted collaboration, fun, cooperation and team building.
Most importantly, 86% respondents said they would definitely sign up for Sports Day in future years.
We hope to see everyone on May 6!
By Breeonne Baxter on April 1, 2016
Late last week, there was a stranger sexual assault on the Vancouver campus. You are encouraged to pay extra attention to your surroundings, reach out for assistance if you need it and speak up if you see something suspicious.
You have options for getting around campus after dark at the Vancouver campus:
- Call AMS Safewalk (604-822-5355) to have someone accompany you to your destination between 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
- Take the Translink Community Shuttle, which operates on a fixed route and stops near residence (www.transportation.ubc.ca).
- Walk with a friend or colleague.
- Use UBC Blue Phones to connect directly with UBC Campus Security.
- If you find yourself alone late at night on campus after these other services have stopped running for the evening, please call Campus Security at 604-822-2222 (put this number in your phone) or use a UBC Blue Phone and a security patrol will accompany you to your campus destination.
One of the best ways to stay safe, and keep others safe, is to look out for each other. Everyone plays a role in making UBC’s Vancouver campus a safe and welcoming place.
There are a number of things that UBC administrators can do to make UBC spaces safe and secure for faculty and staff in your units, and for students in your buildings.
Lights & Infrastructure
If there are any burned out lights or other infrastructure problems in your building that may contribute to a lack of security, please submit a service request to Building Operations. If you need immediate assistance, call the Building Operations Service Centre at 604-822-2173.
Access & Security
It’s important that we all work together to keep UBC spaces safe and secure. This means keeping secure areas locked and closing all doors and windows when we leave a room for a period of time. In addition, check to make sure that locked doors are not propped open. If someone unfamiliar tries to follow you into a secure area, ask about their purpose there if you feel safe to do so, or you can contact Campus Security with your concerns.
With exams coming up soon, we will have more students looking for quiet spaces to study, and that can sometimes include empty classrooms. Please keep an eye out for everyone during this busy season.
If you have questions about the secure access to your building, please contact Access Services.
UBC has policies in place to keep employees safe when working alone. This includes faculty and staff as well as student employees. If you have questions about UBC’s Working Along procedures, please contact Risk Management.
By Breeonne Baxter on November 2, 2015
You are invited to participate in UBC Thrive! Thrive consists of a wide range of activities that promote building skills and habits to improve positive mental health. Thrive topics include workplace mental health, meditation and mindfulness, learning how to speak up, preventing bullying and harassment, building resiliency, and engaging in healthy physical and nutritional habits.
Whether you participate in Thrive activities because you want to incorporate new skills and actions into your daily life, address areas that challenge you, or learn how to assist others, Thrive offers new tools to achieve your wellbeing goals.
Check out the events taking place during Thrive: http://thrive.ubc.ca/thrive-events/
By Breeonne Baxter on April 20, 2015
UBC Recreation and UBC Human Resources are hosting the UBC Staff & Faculty Sports Days, May 1 at the Okanagan campus and May 8 at the Vancouver campus. This free event features an afternoon of great physical and mental team building activities and a free lunch!
Okanagan Campus Sports Day
Sports Day is held at the Okanagan campus on May 1, 12:30pm-3:00pm. Volunteers are needed to help run the activity stations – if you are able to help out, fill out the online volunteer form.
Registration closes on April 27.
For more information on the Okanagan campus event, visit http://www.calendar.events.ubc.ca:80/s/6ER.
Vancouver Campus Sports Day
Sports Day is held at the Vancouver campus on May 8, 2015, 11:30am-1:30pm.
Registration closes at 12:00pm on May 1.
For more information on the Vancouver campus event, visit http://www.recreation.ubc.ca/ubc-staff-faculty/sportsday/.
By Breeonne Baxter on April 2, 2014
April 2 is National Employee Benefits Day. This year, the focus of National Employee Benefits Day is to increase awareness of retirement, and to help people to actively engage in their financial wellness. Learn more at http://www.ifebp.org/AboutUs/NEBD/.
At UBC, faculty and staff have access to a wide ranging benefits plan that includes:
- medical services plan coverage
- extended health, emergency travel assistance (medi-passport), and dental coverage
- employee and family assistance program
- income replacement program (long-term disability)
- basic life insurance
- optional group life and accidental death & dismemberment insurance
- pension plan
- leave entitlements (including sick leaves and Supplemental Employment Benefits during maternity, parental and adoptive leaves)
- personal and professional development opportunities, such as the tuition fee benefit.
Check out your benefits by employee group at http://www.hr.ubc.ca/benefits/employee-groups/.
Questions about your benefits? Call 604-822-8111, or email email@example.com.
By David Geselbracht on December 10, 2013
Mahony & Sons pub was packed with people, but not for your typical pub event. Throughout the night on November 4th several talks were given and discussions had on an oft-neglected subject: men’s mental health.
“There’s stigma around mental health in general,” said UBC’s Geoff Soloway, one of the night’s organizers, “But there are some additional and different types of stigmas for men, and being willing to talk about them, and overcoming the different stereotypes, expectations and barriers to reaching out, is important.”
Mental health awareness is something UBC has made a priority. The event – ‘Movember at Mahony’s’ – was a collaboration between the Men’s Depression and Suicide Network, Human Resources, and Thrive, which itself is a week long campaign that promotes mental health on the UBC campus. And since it was November, the event coincided perfectly with the men’s mental health awareness initiative of Movember.
Dr. Marvin Westwood is a professor of counseling psychology and co-founder of the Veterans Transition Program, a group-based therapy program that helps Canadian veterans manage symptoms related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He described how the stigma around words like depression and suicide often scare men from seeking help when they need it. By approaching the subject differently, he said, his team has achieved incredible results.
Dr. Westwood has found that men just want successful lives with their kids and partners, but when clinical language is used that distances them, or makes them feel like there is something wrong with them – they just won’t seek help.
“What we tend to focus on here is how to help men be successful, and get resources when they need them,” said Dr. Westwood, “Without putting them in a box.”
Tim Laidlaw is a graduate student in psychology at UBC, as well as a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who participated in the Veterans Transition Program. He talked about his experiences in Afghanistan, and his difficulty transitioning back to Canadian society, after spending so much time in a military environment.
“When I came home I didn’t have the tools,” he said. “I didn’t know how to ask for help, and I didn’t even know the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist.”
Laidlaw said this lack of knowledge doesn’t just extend to military men, but men in general. And if there is anything he learned from his time at the Veterans Transition Program – which is applicable to all men – it’s that getting men to start asking for help is the first step to solving their mental health issues.
In between each speaker, the audience was given around ten minutes to discuss mental health issues, sharing their own experiences and listening to each other’s stories.
Soloway heard many positive conversations and believes the event was an excellent step in the right direction.
“This event at Mahony’s is a real mark of the integration and collaboration between students, staff, and faculty here at UBC,” he said, “as we work together to create an initiative around mental health.”
By David Geselbracht on November 15, 2013
It’s a crisp Tuesday morning and the roads are wet after a night of heavy rain. Orange and yellow leaves cover 8th Street and a light fog is just beginning to lift. I’m waiting for Colin Hearne to arrive on his bike, before we cycle together from Kitsilano to UBC.
It’s Bike to Work week in Vancouver and Colin, who works in Health, Wellbeing, and Benefits, has registered to ride for the HR department at UBC. The event happens twice a year to promote exercise and healthy lifestyle choices among Vancouverites.
Despite the morning chill Colin is wearing shorts. Born and raised in Ireland he doesn’t bat an eye when rain clouds are forming overhead.
“Rather than avoiding getting wet,” he tells me, “just get wet, and shower up afterwards.”
We start biking down 8th Street and there are other cyclists humming along side us, on their way to work or school, or just on a morning cruise; some are on road bikes and others are on comfy cruisers.
The morning bike route to UBC is a scenic one. The roads are flanked with tall leafy trees of autumn hues, and the air is fresh and crisp. When we hit the big hill the Burrard Inlet comes into view, the ocean sitting calm and flat at the base of the Coast Mountains. It’s hard to believe a day can start like this.
A stepping stone
Each year – twice a year – Bike to Work week creates a buzz around cycling. “It invites those who don’t normally cycle to give it a try,” said Susanna Mulligan, another member of the HR team, who herself is an avid biker.
To participate one only has to form a team and register. It’s a great way build workplace community and get some exercise in.
“I did it back in May and really enjoyed it, and before that I didn’t cycle much to work, said Colin, “It’s a great stepping stone to encourage people to start cycling.”
Biking is just a good way to stay fit, too.
“It’s a good way to burn calories and keep the muscles toned, said Colin, “and it’s low impact.”
And studies suggest as much. We don’t need to be training for a marathon to be healthy; we just need to be doing some form of exercise, whether it be walking, biking, or even gardening for at least thirty minutes a day.
For Susanna, biking to work offers exercise when it can be difficult to find the time otherwise. But more importantly, she just enjoys it: “When I ride my bike I’m a happier person, it’s a very simple thing for me,” she said.
Biking in Vancouver
I asked Susanna about the rain, a looming question in the minds of those considering biking. “It’s all in the clothing,” she said, “rain pants, rain jacket – you can be just as dry as in normal weather.” Her philosophy is different from Colin’s, but both have an equally sunny outlook on the topic.
Colin and I reach the top of the hill and it’s smooth sailing from here. It’s cold enough outside that I can see my breath in the air but I’m anything but chilly. I’m wide awake, and in the time it takes us to climb the hill, the sun has risen a little bit more, trying to pierce through the rapidly disappearing mist. I carry the sights and sounds of the morning with me through the day, lifting me up, and I’m eager to bike – or glide, really – back down 8th Avenue when the day is over
This year UBC won Best Workplace (1000+ employees) and Best in “Higher Education” by number of trips, cycling over 13,000 km during the week. And in total, 220,000 kilometers were cycled by 3300 participants in Vancouver.
Get your wheels ready for Bike to Work Week next year starting May 26th!