On January 30, 2020, a fundraiser was held at Willowstone Academy for Third Space’s Student Care Program, which provides clinical counselling to UBC Okanagan students directly on campus. Third Space is a charity that works to close gaps in mental health around the Kelowna community and is heavily involved at UBC Okanagan as they have provided nearly 2,000 free counselling sessions to UBCO students.
The fundraiser featured guest speaker Professor Santa J. Ono, the President and Vice-Chancellor of UBC, who spoke about the current mental health epidemic in youth as well as his own journey with mental health. Santa Ono stated that one in five Canadians will experience mental health struggles throughout their lifetime and the number continues to grow.
In a heavily moving speech, Santa Ono addressed his own struggles with depression and bipolar disorder throughout his youth, noting that he had limited resources to counselling or help during his time as a university student which heavily impacted his well being and created a feeling of isolation. This resulted in Santa Ono attempting to take his own life on two separate occasions.
Santa Ono now uses his own journey as a catalyst for change, fighting for better access to mental health services for students at UBC and around the world. He also asked the crowd to help end the stigma surrounding mental illness by being open-minded and honest with family and friends. Santa Ono’s speech not only provided powerful insight into the world of mental health, but also provided motivation to donors looking to make a positive impact in the Kelowna community.
The fundraiser set a goal of raising $25,000 which was readily met by the donors. With the funds being automatically doubled through the generosity of a private foundation, over $50,000 were raised. This goal was set so that Third Space could set up a second centre and team at UBC Okanagan for their Student Care Program.
The Third Space UBCO counselling team can be contacted by telephone or email to book an appointment. This team provides support for anyone suffering from depression, anxiety and numerous other mental health challenges.