Aug. 28, 2019

UCalgary’s new certificate program first in Canada to teach coping and resiliency skills

Embedded certificate in mental well-being and resilience now open for enrolment
Portrait of woman standing in hallway
Melissa Boyce says students will gain coping skills they can use long after they leave UCalgary. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Between meeting assignment deadlines, writing papers and prepping for exams, from the first day of classes until exams wrap up in April, stress is almost constant for university students. Though some level of stress is an expected part of the student experience, with the University of Calgary’s new embedded certificate in mental well-being and resilience, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  

“Building on the foundations of the strategy, the certificate is a Faculty of Arts program that helps students develop coping and resiliency skills so they can better face adversity, support their peers and ultimately, thrive,” says Dr. Andrew Szeto, PhD, director of the Campus Mental Health Strategy. “The embedded certificate is the first of its kind in Canada and breaks ground in how we think about mental health and learning in a post-secondary context.”

According to Dr. Melissa Boyce, PhD, academic co-ordinator for the new certificate, students with healthy coping abilities are able to realistically assess reactions to stressors, engage in goal-setting, prioritize tasks, practice time management, seek supports and navigate interpersonal relationships — skills that will support their personal and professional development long after they leave UCalgary.

Unique among post-secondary institutions nationwide, the certificate is an innovative program with a structure inspired by UCalgary’s Certificate in Sustainability Studies. Composed of three core courses and three electives which can be selected from a list of more than 100 courses in nine faculties, undergraduates from almost every discipline can complete the certificate alongside their degree without adding extra time to their studies.

Core courses include Psychology 203: Psychology of Everyday Life and two new classes developed specifically to explore perspectives and challenges surrounding mental health: WELL 300: Challenges of Intersectionality in Mental Wellbeing and WELL 400: Capstone in Mental Wellbeing.

While the first two courses will help students develop skills to support their own and others’ mental well-being, the capstone course will bring together interdisciplinary teams of students to develop solutions to real mental health and resilience problems here on campus and with partner organizations in the larger Calgary community.

“We all navigate a path where we’re trying to learn coping skills. I was a pretty anxious student so learning healthy coping skills, especially in the competitiveness of today’s world, would have been extremely beneficial for me,” Boyce says.

“As an instructor, I’ve seen what happens when students fail to thrive because they’re struggling with wellness challenges. We’re hoping through this new program we can effect positive change and continue building a supportive community where students can flourish.”

For more information, visit the Embedded Certificate in Mental Well-being and Resilience web page, or contact Melissa Boyce, academic co-ordinator at

The University of Calgary’s Campus Mental Health Strategy is a bold commitment to the importance of mental health and well-being of our university family. Our vision is to be a community where we care for each other, learn and talk about mental health and well-being, receive support as needed, and individually and collectively realize our full potential. If you think you need help, please visit resources here. If you think someone you know needs help, find more information here.