30 Supporting Students with Mental Health Issues During Co-op Work Terms: Towards a New Paradigm


Julie Walchli, University of British Columbia

According to Lime Connect Canada, “90% of disabilities on campus and 70% of disabilities in general are non-visible – including learning and attention issues, depression, medical conditions and many others.” In recent years colleges and universities have become better at supporting student wellness on campus, but these supports typically focus on helping students succeed within an academic environment. Sometimes an unfamiliar, performance oriented co-op workplace can trigger issues for students who’ve learned effective coping strategies at school, but struggle to manage their mental health issues during a co-op job.

This session will bring together co-op practitioners, employers, and disability experts from the University of BC to discuss ways to support students when they engage in off-campus activities such as co-op work terms. We’ll share emerging processes for identifying and supporting students beyond skills based performance issues, and discuss some of the challenges and opportunities for this work.



Julie Walchli, University of British Columbia
Julie has worked in the field of co-operative education since 1997 when she founded the first co-op education program in Arts at UBC in the English Department. Since then she has helped to create an Arts-wide program for students throughout all undergraduate programs, masters programs in the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, and recently to PhD students in the English and History Departments. She is currently managing a multi-year, Arts-wide project to explore ways to support faculty members, staff, and students to integrate career education throughout the undergraduate experience. Julie has served in a number of leadership roles in the co-op community, including President of the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (2015-16) and President of the BC Co-op Association (2011-2013). A graduate from UBC’s B.A. and M.A. programs in English, Julie taught in the English department from 1993-97 and co-edited Landmarks: A Process Reader for Canadian Writers.


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