I am currently finishing up my first year as a Wellness Peer and have found the experience to be incredibly rewarding. As peers, we receive training in assisting peers in distress, sexual assault disclosures, suicide awareness prevention training (QPR), as well as general tips to assist students with living well during university. Learning about how to provide peer support has been such a useful skill not only for my work with the Wellness Center, but as a general life skill, and as such has made the Wellness Peer experience extremely valuable to me personally.
To give a more general description of the program and the centre; Wellness Peers are part of UBC Peer Programs and are a group of students (both grad and undergrad) that help staff the Wellness Centre, contribute to the Healthy Minds at UBC blog, as well as put on workshops and outreach events around campus to help inform the UBC community on how to strive for wellness while in university. Our core areas of wellness promotion are mental, physical, and sexual health.
The Wellness Centre itself is mostly accessed by students but is available to the entire UBC community. A lot of students come in for sexual health support – either in the form of asking sexual health questions, taking free condoms, or purchasing sex toys or other products in store (cash only). We also provide students with health resources related to time management, sleep, diet, and stress.
Our center strives to be informed on other related resources on campus and can help students navigate where to go if they want help with areas such as academic success or mental health support. Thus, we are a great starting place for students who are trying to figure out their options for next steps when they are experiencing challenges in university and don’t know where to go.
We are located in Irving K. Barber on the bottom floor in room 183.
The centre is 100% staffed by students (wellness peers) with the assistance of the centre coordinator. When you visit, you can expect to be greeted by the peer manning the front desk and have the freedom to either walk around and check out the space yourself, or ask the peer questions and have them show you around. We have handouts and brochures on topics related to mental, physical, and sexual health, including info on stress, time management, birth control, and a breakdown of the AMS health plan. We sell sex toys at cost and are glad to show them to anyone who is interested if that is also an area you are interested in exploring.
I find every interaction at the wellness centre to be extremely meaningful. Whether it be someone coming in to buy condoms, discuss time management and school stress, or birth control options, the wellness centre provides a safe space for people to ask questions and receive peer support in situations where they may not know where else to go. Even if we don’t have the resource that someone needs at the centre, one of our main functions is to know about many other key support services on campus and inform students about them to help students find the support they need. It is an inviting space, it is a positive space, and it is run by peers for peers. It can definitely be challenging to know how to best support people that come in; every interaction is uniquely different and there’s never a perfect answer, but all of our peers try our best to support students in every situation.