About the Course

Starting a Conversation About Mental Health (for Students) is a 60-minute online, self-paced, and non-facilitated course. It provides foundational mental health and wellness training to help students support their peers who may be struggling with stress and distress. Through this course, learners will:

  • Explore different mental health and wellness models
  • Consider the language they use when talking about mental health and mental illness
  • Examine the stress response and learn more about managing stress and keeping things in balance
  • Discover ways to respond in an empathetic way to other students who are struggling with stress and mental health
  • Consider how to maintain boundaries and practice self-care when supporting a student in distress

While this course covers how to refer a student who is having a mental health emergency or crisis to appropriate resources, this course does not address suicide awareness, which requires more in-depth training. BCcampus has developed a facilitator-led courses on suicide awareness. For more information, the BCcampus Mental Health and Wellness.

Starting a Conversation About Mental Health (for Students) was adapted from the BCcampus synchronous resource Starting a Conversation About Mental Health: Foundational Training for Students, which is a facilitator’s guide for delivering in-person or online mental health and wellness training to post-secondary students.

The asynchronous, self-paced version of the course was developed to meet the needs of post-secondary institutions unable to reach all learners through synchronous workshops. It covers the same concepts and has the same learning outcomes as the synchronous, facilitated version of the course.

Both versions of the Starting a Conversation About Mental Health courses were developed with guidance from an advisory group of students, staff, and faculty from B.C. post-secondary institutions. The courses were also developed in close collaboration with an Indigenous advisor, and Indigenous knowledge about mental health has been integrated into all the materials.

Key Principles

This course was developed following the six key principles identified in the Framework for Evaluating Mental Health and Wellness Education and Training Resources. The principles ensure the training is:

Course Structure and Topics

  • Starting a Conversation About Mental Health includes an introduction, four modules, a course summary, and downloadable PDF resources.
  • The modules include interactive activities, videos, ungraded quizzes, key learning points, and reflection questions.
  • Each module finishes with a short, ungraded knowledge check (quiz).
  • The resource section at the end of the course contains handouts for learners to download.
  • The course can be completed in one or more sessions.

Note: The course does not include any graded assessments such as a final quiz. Institutions wanting to add formal assessments can create them in Articulate Rise and incorporate them into the course.

Below is an overview of topics covered in the course.

Welcome and Introduction
  • Welcome (video)
  • Land Acknowledgement
  • About This Course
  • Course Objectives
  • What This Course Does Not Include
  • Course Structure
  • Resources
  • Understanding Your Role
Module 1: Mental Health and Wellness
  • Introduction
  • Getting Started: What Do You Know? (ungraded quiz)
  • What Is Mental Health?
  • What Contributes to Mental Wellness
  • Using the Wellness Wheel (video)
  • Mental Health and Mental Illness
  • Corey Keyes Mental Health Continuum
  • Dual Continuum Model
  • Using Mental Health Terms Accurately
  • Common Mental Health Terms
  • Personal Use of Mental Health Terms (video)
  • Mental Health Statistics
  • Marginalized Groups and Mental Health
  • What We Need to Keep in Mind
  • Knowledge Check (ungraded quiz)
  • End of Module (Key Learning Points)
  • Reflection
Module 2: Let’s Talk About Stress
  • Introduction
  • Rethinking Stress
  • Why Stress Is Good for You (video)
  • The Stress Curve
  • The Role of Resilience
  • Traditional Healing Practices (video)
  • Making Stress Work for You
  • Taking Charge of Your Health (video)
  • Knowledge Check (ungraded quiz)
  • End of Module (Key Learning Points)
  • Reflection
Module 3: Helping Other Students
  • Introduction
  • The Role of Empathy (Brené Brown video)
  • Responding Empathetically
  • Steps to Take When Helping Others
  • Referring to Support Services
  • Understanding Your Role
  • Practice Scenarios
  • When A Student Doesn’t Want to Seek Help
  • Privacy
  • Knowledge Check (ungraded quiz)
  • End of Module (Key Learning Points)
  • Reflection
Module 4: Boundaries and Self-Care
  • Introduction
  • Maintaining Your Own Boundaries
  • Consulting with Others
  • Taking Care of Yourself
  • Self-Care (video)
  • Knowledge Check (ungraded quiz)
  • End of Module (Key Learning Points)
  • Reflection
Course Summary
  • Closing (video)
  • Handout 1: Wellness Wheel
  • Handout 2: Coping Strategies
  • Handout 3: Supporting Other Students
  • Handout 4: Practice Scenarios
  • Handout 5: Additional Resources
  • Handout 6: Key Learning Points and Reflection Questions
 References and Attributions

Course Accessibility

The course has been designed to be accessible to all learners.

  • The course has been optimized for people who use screen-reader technology.
  • All content can be navigated using a keyboard.
  • Images have alt-text provided.
  • Videos have captions and a transcript is provided.
  • Information is not conveyed by colour alone.

There is a detailed accessibility statement at the beginning of the course.

If you are making changes to the course, please review the Accessibility Considerations section to ensure your course is still accessible to all learners.


Starting a Conversation About Mental Health (for Students) by University of British Columbia Student Health and Wellbeing staff, Jewell Gillies, Barbara Johnston, Liz Warwick, Dagmar Devine, Jenny Guild, Arica Hsu, Hamza Islam, Mehakpreet Kaur, Malena Mokhovikova, Jackson Mackenzie Nicholls, and Calla Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

The Creative Commons licence permits you to retain, reuse, copy, redistribute, and revise the course —in whole or in part—for free providing the creators are attributed. These attributions can be found in the References and Attributions section of the course. If you add to the content, you will need to update these attributions. If you use components of the course, please check the attribution carefully to ensure you credit the correct creator.


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Course Implementation Guide for Starting a Conversation About Mental Health (for Students) by Mental Health and Wellness Project Development Team and Sexual Violence Training Development Team is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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