UBC Graduate Research

The University of British Columbia's Wellbeing Initiative : mental health of campus residents through the built environment Popescu, Bianca; Hamilton, Virginia; Taylor-Noonan, Cameron; Oude-Reimerink, Carleigh


Positive mental health and wellbeing is the ability to enjoy life and deal with various challenges on a day-to-day basis. As public health issues are becoming more prominent in society, so are the resources and creative strategies to reduce these issues. There is an ongoing shift in the focus of public health initiatives: from individuals to the community as a whole, and from reactive to preventative measures. The connection of the built environment in relation to the wellbeing and health of residents at The University of British Columbia (UBC), both students and non-student residents, is considered in this paper. UBC seeks to build a complete community on campus, and is focused on providing an environment for lifelong learning and support of residents’ wellbeing. This report summarizes the current conditions at UBC and provides fifteen recommendations for how the university could improve the wellbeing of residents in three different aspects of the campus: public realm, informal learning spaces, and connections to the wider community. Best practice analysis of other university campuses and neighbourhood communities is used to address the ability for UBC to engage in these recommendations. The public realm on the university campus includes, but is not limited to, the streets & pathways, building frontage & spacing, and courtyards & public art. Recommendations for UBC include: • Integrate public artwork within the public realm to foster a sense of community; • Install community gardens within existing communities; • Encourage residents and students to participate in dog therapy; • Rent out UBC facilities for public events to bring residents onto campus; • Develop complete student residence communities with amenities for students; • Ensure easy access to mental health support; • Provide dog therapy at student residences; and, • Host art therapy sessions at student residences. Informal learning spaces in student residence buildings includes the following recommendations for UBC: • Expand informal gathering spaces in academic buildings, residences, and mixed-use hubs throughout campus; • Implement planned outdoor learning spaces and identify priority areas for improvements to the outdoor learning environment; • Consider establishing living-learning communities in existing residences; and, • Support the ‘Living Lab’ philosophy by enhancing the visibility of UBC research in neighbourhoods on campus. With regards to connecting to the wider community, recommendations include: • Improving connections for pedestrians and cyclists during construction; • Expanding the current TransLink shuttle service on campus; and, • Consider establishing a high-tech bike share system on campus. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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