Health and Wellness

Wellness matters. Here at Okanagan College, we take the health and wellness of our students and employees seriously. Our team is committed to investing in you, as you navigate the highs and lows of being a student and employee. Explore our page for resources, important contacts and other information pertaining to your wellness.

What is wellness?

Wellness is characterized by feelings of positivity and happiness and realizing one's full potential, often as a result of the holistic and strength-based pursuit of health. It is about flourishing physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

We firmly believe that having a healthy mind and body contribute to academic and career success. We have a responsibility and opportunity to impact positively on the health and wellness of our students and employees.

Community wellness resources

Crisis/Suicide Support

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433): for individuals who are or know someone who is having thoughts of suicide. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and in up to 140 languages. 

Crisis Line
Youth Space

A place for any youth, under 30, that is experiencing any sort of crisis to come and talk. Open between 6pm - Midnight (PST). Online chat (youthspace.ca), or SMS text chat (778-783-0177).

Visit the YouthSpace website
HealthLink BC

HealthLink BC is for non-urgent medical consultation or information on thousands of health topics. Go to www.HealthLinkBC.ca or call 8-1-1; available 24 hours/day.

Visit the HealthLink BC website

On-campus health and wellness resources

Okanagan College Student Wellness Peer Ambassador program is focused on supporting the physical, emotional, academic/career, social, creative, spiritual, environmental, financial and intellectual well-being of students. It is their role to coordinate and deliver events and activities, often in partnership with others, according to these diverse yet equally important areas of wellness. It is a holistic endeavour. 

Roles and Responsibilities 

Student Wellness Peer Ambassadors are required to adhere to the following responsibilities:

  • Participate in core training designed to assist you in carrying out your duties
  • Strongly consider participating in other training opportunities (e.g. Mental Health First Aid, Bystander Training, etc.)
  • Commit to developing a strong understanding of wellness and wellness-related services on campus and
  • in community
  • Develop and deliver engaging health and wellness events and activities
  • Get involved with or provide support to health and wellness events and activities coordinated by others
  • Attend and participate in regular meetings with your supervisor and/or fellow Ambassadors
  • Communicate to your supervisor your needs in relation to performing your work effectively or anything else that is important to your work as an Ambassador
  • Perform your job to the best of your abilities

Become a Student Wellness Ambassador 

The Kelowna, Salmon Arm and Vernon campuses are still looking to hire more Student Wellness Peer Ambassadors who organize and deliver activities to support student health and wellness. The Wellness Peer Ambassador provides information, resources and referrals related to enhancing health and wellness as required in a welcoming and inclusive way. To apply go to Okanagan.bc.ca/workhere and click on Student Employment. Under On-Campus jobs select "Wellness Peer Ambassador - Outreach & Programming". Application deadline is April 30,2020.

Experiencing anxiety?  Want tools to cope?  Want a free YMCA membership?  Want a free meal?

YMind is a 7-week group for OC students aged 18-30 that helps students learn how to deal with anxiety and stress. To participate, students must attend a mandatory information session. Winter 2020 program is now full.

For program information, please email: ymind@okanagan.bc.ca.

Read more about Kiah's positive experience with Y-Mind.  Learn more about YMCA groups in the community

Flourish is a drop-in safe space, free of charge to all OC students, where we explore various themes related to stress management and mental wellness. 

Why you should check out Flourish

  • A healthy mind will help you be a successful student
  • Learn strategies to manage academic stress
  • Connect with other students and campus supports

Flourish offerings in 2020

There are various ways for you to get involved in Flourish, including Wellness Wednesday workshops. All activities are free for students and employees. In our workshops, we explore what it takes for each of us to flourish. We will learn about and explore a variety of strategies that can help you increase your mental wellness and, hopefully, your success and comfort as a student. Flourish is also a place to break down stigma about mental illness and/or the challenges we all encounter in our lives, and to connect with like-minded people to learn new skills and increase the overall wellness of our campus community.  Check out the program

Due to COVID-19, Flourish has adjusted its offerings to provide online resources for students to use at their own pace, as well as monthly Wellness Wednesday workshops - because we're in this together.

The Spiritual Multi-Faith Space is inclusive to students and employees, and is located on the third floor of the Kelowna campus Library (L Building).

Okanagan College Culinary and Pastry Arts students are launching an innovating new program designed to hone their skills while providing nutritious meals free of charge for fellow students who are struggling financially.

Students can apply to request a meal by emailing: ocservesup@ocsu.ca

Meals will be available daily to students in both online and in-person classes, and accessed via a voucher system managed by the OCSU Student Pantry.

Book a counselling appointment

Counselling resources

Eight ways to wellness

An adequate amount of sleep can improve memory, spur creativity, sharpen attention, lower stress and, ultimately, improve grades. While naps do not necessarily replace a good night’s sleep, a short nap of 20-30 minutes may improve mood, alertness and performance.

Things you can do:

  • Think twice before attempting too many all-night study sessions - plan ahead
  • Find a quiet corner or a comfortable chair on campus and take a nap between classes

Studies have shown that eating well (i.e. choosing healthy foods) contributes to academic achievement. What's important is that you consume enough healthy food to fuel your day.

Things you can do:

  • Prepare meals that make sense to you (i.e. use foods that are familiar to you)
  • EatRightOntario.ca has a list of food choices for when money is tight.
  • High protein dinners from PopSugar.com that won't break the bank.
  • 5dollardinners.com has great $5 dinner ideas.

Some people take a few minutes every day to breathe and take notice of the world. Being mindful looks different for everyone, so do what feels best for you! Being intentionally mindful can lead to improved attention concentration and ability to cope with stress.

Things you can do:

  • Find out if there are mindfulness classes, workshops or activities (e.g. yoga, meditation, Aboriginal smudging ceremony) on your campus or in your community
  • Download one of the many mindfulness apps to your smartphone (e.g. Headspace, The Mindfulness App, Pocket Yoga, etc)
  • Disconnect from technology by learning some tips to live intentionally with your technology:
  • Yoga for everybody - Kelowna campus - Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12-12:50 pm. Free for students / $10 for staff (e-mail yoga@okanagan.bc.ca for more information)

  • Drop in mindful meditation - Kelowna campus - FREE for students and staff. Classes led by Brett Wade, PhD (bwade@okanagan.bc.ca). Fridays 12:15-12:45pm. 

  • Flourish - Penticton campus - Flourish is a drop-in safe space, free of charge to all OC students, where we explore various themes related to stress management and mental wellness.  
    *We offer wellness Wednesday workshops and Flourish with yoga classes on Thursdays.

Making time for physical activity on a regular basis has a number of physical and mental benefits. Remember, being active doesn't necessarily mean exercising at a gym or playing sports. It could be as simple as taking a brisk walk. Whatever you do, choosing an enjoyable activity is always best.

Things you can do:

  • Take the stairs
  • Find out about any recreation activities on your campus or in your community (e.g. Athletics, Recreation & Student Life Program Guide)
  • Walk or ride your bike to school

You know yourself best. You know what being mentally healthy feels like for you. Take notice and talk to others when you notice changes in your thoughts, mood and/or behaviour.

Things you can do:

  • Make an appointment to see a personal counsellor on your campus
  • Talk to someone  you trust and tell them how you feel, whether a College employee or  a friend
  • Call Crisis Centre BC at 1-800-784-2433 or chat online at crisiscentrechat.ca

Surround yourself with healthy, positive relationships. Getting involved in a campus community can offer a sense of belonging and connectedness. Supportive relationships can increase feelings of happiness.

Things you can do:

  • Get involved with your local student association
  • Join in on one of the student-focused and fun events on your campus
  • Connect with members of your community on or off campus
  • Connect with a local spiritual or religious community or organization

In order to stay well, you should monitor or get advice about your health regularly. Ignoring physical or mental illness, worsening medical condition, or injury can prevent you from participating fully in school.

Things you can do:

  • Make an appointment with a local medical or health professional (e.g. physician, dentist, naturopath, physiotherapist, etc.)
  • Make sure your prescriptions are up to date
  • Visit a local walk-in medical clinic

If being mindful doesn't appeal to you, simply take time to relax. Engaging in down-time on your own or with others, where you have no specific focus or goal in mind can help you recharge your brain. Make it a part of your daily routine. The key is to find a good work-life balance. You don't want to do too much of one thing at the expense of another.

Things you can do:

  • Watch a movie or TV
  • Read a book or magazine

Health and medical coverage

Regarding health-care coverage, there are a few things to be aware of. There are two types of coverage:

  • Basic healthcare coverage through the province's Medical Services Plan (MSP). Basic medical services covers things like doctor and hospital visits, lab work, X-rays etc. Everyone should have this coverage.
  • Extended health. These benefits are additional health-care services and provide full or partial payment of things like prescriptions, dental services, and paramedical services. Okanagan College has a medical and dental extended health plan for students through Okanagan College Student's Union.

Basic medical coverage

For students who are residents of BC and turning 19, MSP will send a letter to your parents. The letter advises your parents that their coverage of you, as a dependent, will end on the last day of the month you turn 19. Unless the parents request otherwise, MSP will automatically set up a new self-administered account for you. Initially, 100 percent premium assistance will be provided (if the residency requirements for premium assistance are met). Your parents have the option of continuing to cover you as a dependent if you are single, supported by them and attending school full-time, but will need to contact MSP with details.

If you are coming from out of province, you or your parent(s) can continue paying the healthcare insurance premiums (monthly payments) in your home province or country to maintain your coverage. Alternatively, if you plan on living in B.C. for over 3 months, then you can apply for B.C. Medical by filling out the Application For Enrollment. This process takes up to 3 months so you should apply soon after arriving in B.C. Out of province medical services will often cover you for those first 3 months during the transition, but check with your individual plan for details.
If you earned less than $28,000 in the previous tax year, you can also apply for premium assistance. If this is the case, whether you are new to B.C. or have existing coverage, fill out the premium assistance application.
As well, once you are a B.C. resident and enrolled with the Medical Services Plan (MSP), register with Fair PharmaCare to receive your maximum assistance. Fair PharmaCare is the largest of the drug coverage plans helping B.C. residents with the cost of eligible prescriptions and medical supplies.

Extended health coverage for students

Okanagan College has an extended health plan for students through the Okanagan College Students' Union. All full time students are automatically registered with the Extended Medical and Dental Benefits through Greenshield. For the benefits covered under this plan, check the Greenshield Plan website. If you already have extended health coverage, then you can obtain a waiver form through the student's union to get a refund for the fee that you have paid. If you choose to carry on with the plan, then obtain a health card and pamphlet regarding this coverage from the student's union at the beginning of the semester. For more information you can email the student's union at health-dental@ocsu.ca. Vernon students can contact Vernon Students Association OC.