Shirley Barnett’s (BA’63) interest in the early diagnosis of depression stems from her days at UBC. As a sociology and psychology student, she volunteered in a women’s prison.
This experience inspired Barnett to support the UBC Wellness Coaching Program, a peer-to-peer program that addresses the gap between the number of students experiencing mental health difficulty and those receiving services.
“Things can spiral downwards quite quickly,” says Barnett, a former social worker, who previously worked in the fields of corrections and addiction. “If students sense they’re not doing well, I want to make it easy for them to get some early help.”
Trained senior students will provide coaching on mental well-being including strategies for stress management, communication, mild mood difficulties and wellness balance.
“It’s easy to make poor life choices and students are under so much pressure to get good grades, to have a social life, and to do everything in between,” says Barnett, a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board in the Faculty of Arts. “I think the pressure can be enormous.”
The Wellness Coaching Program will provide students with easy access to mental health support services and complement existing coaching programs focused on areas such as academic performance and international student transition.