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Learn about Mental Health

What is Mental Health Literacy?

Intersectional Approaches to Mental Health 


We all have mental health. It's our feelings, emotions, thoughts, and mood—and it impacts how we cope with challenges and stress, how we work and learn, and how we interact with others. Like our physical health, mental health impacts our overall wellbeing and we need to continually work at it. 

Mental health looks and feels different for everyone and can be influenced by many factors—both in and out of our control. Our mental health, as well as many mental disorders, are impacted by our social, economic and physical environments; mental health outcomes are greatly impacted by social inequalities. Intersectional approaches to mental health are needed to support historically, and systemically under-represented populations. 

Mental health is a continuum; we all have mental health, and it changes throughout our lives, as do the actions that support it. There are different actions we can take to support ourselves, depending on where we are on this continuum at any given point. 

This is why it is important to build mental health literacy; to be able to recognize signs things might not be quite right, improve coping and resiliency, know how to seek help when you need it, and know what that help looks like for you as an individual. You may not always thrive (and that's ok), but knowing when you need support, and what that support looks like for you can help. 


Building and learning the skills you need to thrive can help you manage life's ups and downs, and live, work and learn your best. Whether you're a first-year student or fourth, a faculty member or staff, your mental health matters, and we invite you to learn about it, talk about it and explore it, throughout Thrive month and beyond! 

Thanks to UBC Health, Wellbeing, and Benefits for sharing this great video on Mental Health! 

Mental Health Literacy 

Mental health literacy is an important tool to have in your toolbox when it comes to building mental health. The more we develop mental health literacy, the better able we are to support ourselves, support others, and reduce stigma, creating a more resilient and caring community. 

Improving mental health literacy skills can help you: 

  • Understand how to obtain and maintain mental health (during Thrive and beyond). 
  • Recognize your signs of distress as an individual (because mental health is different for all of us)
  • Feel empowered and educated to take control
  • Enhance your help-seeking skills
  • Identify mental disorders and decrease stigma

Mental health literacy is crucial to building mental health, something that UBC has long championed and further committed to through the development of the Wellbeing Strategic Framework, as well as numerous supports and resources for students, faculty and staff. Like any other skill, mental health literacy is one you have to work on. It takes time to develop them and to recognize the tools and strategies that work best for you. 


Be sure to check out the Thrive event calendar for workshops and training on mental health literacy. While we're promoting these as part of Thrive, many of them take place year-round and can be adapted for your specific department, faculty, or student group. 

Intersectional Approaches to Mental Health 

Mental health is impacted by many factors, both in and out of one's control. Historically, persistently, and systemically marginalized people often experience a greater frequency of mental health problems as the result of discrimination and harassment within western/North American systems. Systems that might impact mental health for some populations include capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, racism, etc. 

Taking an intersectional approach to mental health literacy means acknowledging that these multiple forms of inequity can be compounded to create challenges such as discrimination and disadvantage. Individuals with overlapping and intersecting identities face additional discrimination and harassment. Those with mental illness may be part of multiple groups that experience stigma, which can impact their quality of life, diagnoses, or even access to treatment. 

Mental health is very individual, and North American/Western approaches may not always be the most appropriate way to support mental health in some populations. Making culturally appropriate supports available, normalized, and encouraged, is crucial to an intersectional approach to mental health. 

HR's Workplace Wellbeing team has created a facilitator's guide on intersectional approaches to mental health to support mental health literacy education from a place of inclusion and diversity. We hope that this will be a useful resource for fostering important conversations about, and approaches to mental health. 

Intersectional Approaches to Mental Health- Facilitator's Guide

HR's Workplace Wellbeing team has also created two infographics that explore how workplace mental health is connected to identity, empathy and community. 

Intersectionality & Mental Health (staff & faculty)

Intersectionality & Mental Health (managers & leaders)




We all have a hand in shaping campus environments that support health, wellbeing, and sustainability. By championing wellbeing, we can build stronger and more inclusive communities at UBC and beyond.