Counselling & mental health
Counsellors provide a space for students to examine and explore behaviors, relationships, feelings, or thoughts which cause concern or challenges in their life. Whether these problems are primarily impacting personal, social, or academic life, a counsellor can help to strengthen a student’s ability to cope and provide a valuable source of support.
Before booking an appointment with a counsellor, students are encouraged to explore their concerns through self-help resources that are available. This is to help identify the chief concern(s) prior to your first visit with a counsellor.
Book an appointment
Cancelling an appointment
To avoid a $30 cancellation fee, please contact our office at least two hours in advance if you need to cancel your appointment.
Other counselling resources
UBC Student Assistance Program
Offered by Aspiria, the UBC Student Assistance Program (SAP) is a free, 24/7 wellness resource for students offered in dozens of languages. Services include personal counselling, life coaching, group programs, and more, based on your needs. How to access the Student Assistance Program.
Third Space Life Charity: Student Care Program
Third Space offers supportive counselling in conjunction with the UBCSUO. Learn more about this at thirdspacecanada.org
Kelowna crisis line is available 24/7: 1 888 353 2273.
Suicide crisis line: 1 800 784 2433
Vets4warriors: 1 855 838 8255
The UBCOSUO extended benefits include coverage for personal counselling. Many students may also have counselling coverage under their parents’ extended health benefits as well. If you wish to access a personal counsellor in the Central Okanagan, try this link: BCACC counsellors
How counselling helps
Counsellors can help you deal with a variety of issues that challenge your ability to be successful at university, including:
- struggling to keep up with your studies
- dealing with an emergency or a personal crisis
- having difficulty with relationships, friends or roommates
- wanting to improve your communication with others or becoming more comfortable speaking in class
- dealing with anxiety and stress
- experiencing panic, depression, or suicidal thoughts and feelings
- managing your time so that you “have a life besides school”
- having a friend who is having problems and you want to know how to help
- have addictions that are taking control of your life
- sexual concerns or difficulties with gender or self-identity
Stepped care counselling model
At UBC Okanagan, we offer a stepped care counselling model to best support our student population. The steps may include:
First counselling visit: determine needs, priority, and best resources for students to try.
Campus and personal self-care: Equip students with a range of community, campus, and online resources.
Groups and workshops: Guide students to available support groups and workshops to develop a peer support network.
Individual counselling: Provide appropriate resources to students needing individual counselling.
What is stepped care?
What happens on the first visit?
What kind of resources are offered?
Do all students need one-on-one counselling?
Does this mean a lot of appointments?
Where can I find information on mental health resources in the Kelowna area?
Stepped care is designed for high-volume student care situations. If long-term or ongoing counselling is needed, particularly if students have pre-existing mental health concerns, counsellors will work with students to determine resources and options in the local community.
In your first visit with a counsellor, they 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. This first visit is usually brief and shorter than a scheduled counselling session.
For some individuals, campus resources offered by professional and/or student staff may be beneficial; and in some cases, workshops and groups on campus may also be available to address individuals’ mental health needs. There are also a wide variety of web-based apps that are well established to aid in a variety of challenges.
Research on student mental health suggests that diversity in care delivery (not just in-clinic one-on-one sessions) is highly effective in helping students achieve their goals.
Sometimes one-on-one support from a therapist or counsellor is the best fit for your needs and/or goals. If this is the case, individual counselling options in the community and on-campus are available and will be discussed to determine the best fit.
Not necessarily. If you feel your needs would be better met by more frequent, long-term counselling, Studen Wellness will do our utmost to refer you to a counselling service that is right for you.
Refer to our list of community resources (PDF) to see what is available that may help you.
For more information on where to find a counsellor in Kelowna, visit BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC).
Nancy (she/her), Case Manager
Hello! I have been working with UBCO since 2017 and feel lucky to work with such a diverse and vibrant community. Originally from Newfoundland, I have experienced firsthand the excitement – and challenges – of moving away from home and beginning a new chapter. After working or studying in several different provinces in Canada, I’m grateful to have moved to the beautiful Okanagan to obtain my Master of Social Work. In my spare time, you’ll often find me outside – I love camping, swimming, and hiking in the summer months, and snowshoeing, skating, and skiing in the winter. I also love visiting my family in Newfoundland each summer with my partner and our son. I look forward to being a part of your journey here at UBCO. Welcome!
Robert (he/him), Counsellor
Robert completed a Master of Education in Counselling and is a Registered Clinical Counsellor. He has worked in community mental health and hospitals but the majority of his work experience comes from supporting students within post-secondary settings. Originally from Toronto, then having lived in northern BC for some years, he started working at UBCO in 2017. He uses a trauma-informed, strength-based, emotion-focused, and harm reduction approach to his therapy work. His interests include student stress and distress, student identity development, trauma, grief & loss, addiction, and symptoms related to mental health diagnosis. He is an LGBTQIA2S+ ally and identifies as a cis male using he/him pronouns.
Elizabeth (Liz) (she/her), Counsellor
I was born and raised in Windhoek, Namibia, and officially moved to Canada in 2008. Before my final move to Canada, I had the privilege to travel and live in the Netherlands, Spain, and the USA.
I have a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of the Fraser Valley and a Master of Social Work from UBCO. I have over 20 years of experience in the mental health field, working as a Mental Health Clinician and Counselor in different settings including Health Authorities, NGO’s such as UNAIDS, and Red Cross in Southern Africa, and community mental health in British Columbia. From these settings, I have gained diverse experience working with adults and young adults going through various life transitions, such as forced displacements, interpersonal violence, situational crisis, low self-esteem, and trauma. My passion is to create a safe space where individuals can feel heard, validated, and understood in ways that support their own healing and wellness.
Outside of my work, I enjoy quality time with my family and friends and I enjoy watching sports like football and soccer.
Claire (she/her), Counsellor
Hello! I am originally from Alberta where I completed a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Calgary in 2002. Since then, I have specialized in mental health, working in various roles including acute and emergency mental health, psychiatric consultation, teaching, case management, and counseling. My work also provided me with an opportunity to live and work abroad in Australia. After discovering my love for warm weather in Australia, I returned to Canada dreaming of milder temperatures. This led me to the Okanagan in 2011 and I joined the UBCO Student Wellness team in 2019. When I am not at work, I am usually on the go, outdoors. Some favorites include snowboarding, cycling, hiking, and wake surfing. I look forward to meeting you and connecting you to what you are seeking.
Hira (she/her), Counsellor
Being a student is an interesting part of your life – it is exciting, it is difficult and it’s a time when you learn so much about who you are. A lot of my understanding of self-developed during this time in my life. I am an immigrant and a child of immigrant parents, I identify as South Asian, Canadian, and Muslim (to name a few of my intersecting identities). There are many ways one understands themselves and the world around them. Navigating your educational life can be stressful, confusing, and absolutely wonderful and I’m here to support you through that journey.
Mandy (she/her), Counsellor
Hello! I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor I have always had a passion for helping people. I believe that no matter what you have experienced in life you can always find yourself again and build resilience and happiness.
I enjoy being in nature and exploring different forms of holistic health modalities. Taking care of my emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health is an important part of my life. I believe we can always be growing and learning. This world has so much to offer if you are willing to open yourself up to new possibilities.
Annette (she/her), Counsellor
Hello all. I have been working at UBCO since 2015 in many different roles within the Student Wellness Clinic. My work as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse has varied over my 30+ year career in a wide variety of multidisciplinary programs. Having moved from Saskatchewan (Go Riders) to Alberta and finally settled in Kelowna. I love to spend time golfing, camping, and enjoying the beautiful Okanagan sunshine with hikes or just a walk in the park. I feel privileged to be able to work and play in an exciting, healthy, and diverse community. Welcome to UBCO and enjoy exploring the Okanagan community
Shanna (she/her), Counsellor
Hello, my name is Shanna I am a Registered Nurse and have worked in the Psychiatric/mental health field for over 30 years. I’ve worked in acute psychiatric units and I’ve worked as a counselor in community mental health, working with adults and youth. I’ve worked as the coordinator and nurse for a mood disorder clinic and I’ve facilitated anxiety groups at Kelowna Mental Health. I’ve also worked with street entrenched youth with mental health and addiction struggles. When I’m not working I like to spend time with my family and friends. I like hiking and skiing and I love traveling.