Support and Activities Over the Holidays

A cartoon moose in a green holidays sweater.

Between the lack of sunlight, end-of-year deadlines and other challenges that can arise during this time of the year, the holiday season can be a difficult time for some, even in "normal times". In 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing, the holiday season could be particularly challenging.

If you, a family member or a friend need support over the holidays, know that you are not alone and that there are many options available to our students and staff alike, wherever they are in Canada or around the world.

This year, the University will also be hosting a few holiday activities.

You can also consult our wellness webinars.

Support options
Good2Talk - 24/7 (Bilingual). Good2Talk is a free helpline available to all Ontario college and university students. 1-866-925-5454
Good2Talk logo
The Crisis Text Line is a free text-based helpline that can be used by anyone, in any type of crisis. Text HOME to 686868 from Canada, anytime. No need for a data plan or Internet connection. (For French, just text PARLER to the same number).
Crisis Text Line Logo

The Peer Wellness Chat is peer chat service where students can log in and connect with peer volunteers who are ready to lend an ear and chat. Just go to the Virtual Wellness Lounge and open the chat by clicking on the chat box in the lower right corner (desktop) or make it appear by scrolling down (mobile).

From December 10th to January 10th the chat will be running on a reduced schedule.

  • It will be open everyday of the week from 2-7 p.m.
  • With the exception of December 24-26th, December 31st, January 1st, where it will be closed.
blue square with the words Peer Wellness Chat

Counselling Connect provides free access to a same-day or next-day phone or video counselling session. This service is for children, youth, adults and families in Ottawa and the surrounding area. There is no waiting list.

Before the pandemic, people received free same-day counselling services mainly through community walk-in services. Due to COVID-19, in-office counselling is not possible. But, all our services are open. Caring teams want to help. And, there is a critical need for quick and easy access to counselling.

two Cs interlaced, the words Counselling Connect

Wellness Together Canada was funded by the Government of Canada in response to the unprecedented rise in mental distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People are being challenged like never before due to isolation, physical health concerns, substance use concerns, financial and employment uncertainty, and the emotional dialogue around racial equality. We’re all going through this together, and we believe that mental health is a journey, not a destination. Each day, we can take a step for our own wellbeing. Wellness Together Canada is here to support everybody on that journey.

Wellness Together Canada logo

Employee-Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is a 24/7 bilingual, confidential and voluntary support service that can help you find solutions to all kinds of challenges related to work, your health or life in general. Employees have access to this service at no cost.

*During these challenging times, all employee groups will have access to short-term counselling with our Employee and Family Assistance Program.*

Work Health Life logo

The University of Ottawa Student Union (UOSU) offers a 24/7 bilingual assistance program similar to the EFAP called Empower Me. Undergraduates students who are registered under the Student Health Plan can connect for free with qualified counsellors, consultants, and life coaches for a variety of issues and in a variety of languages. Various telephone and online options available. Visit the Studentcare website to know more.

UOSU logo
Empower Me by Studentcare - Logo
The Graduate Student Association (GSAÉD) also offers a 24/7 bilingual assistance program similar to the EFAP called the Student Support Program (SSP). Graduate students can call 24/7 1-855-649-8641 to speak to a counsellor or make an appointment at no cost, or visit the SSP Website (just type in University of Ottawa or GSAÉD to identify your institution). Various telephone and online options available.
GSAED logo
Work Health Life logo
International students who are currently outside of Canada can also get counselling via International SOS.

The University of Ottawa has partnered with International SOS to support registered uOttawa students residing outside of Canada (or in provinces outside Ontario).

As of March 25, 2020, students can:

  • Contact 1-215-942-8226 or,
  • Download the Assistance App and identify their institution.

International SOS:

  • Offers 24/7 support, every day of the year
  • Offers support in over 60 languages
  • Provides an assessment
  • Offers counselling via telephone or videocall
International SOS logo


You can find more support options for you, your family or your friends by visiting the uOttawa Mental Health and Wellness website.

Activities during the Holidays
a snowman ornament in a pine tree

The University will host activities over the Holidays this year for those who'd like to connect with others or engage in relaxing or fun activities over this period. Activities will be mainly virtual, but some will be in person for students living in residence.

FREE Hot Chocolate (for students living in residence)

  • December 16, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
  • December 24 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Location: Grande allée in front of 90U  

Take a study break, stretch your legs and your Gee-Gees athletes in the Grande allée in front of 90U for free hot chocolate! Warm up and refresh to celebrate the end of a successful semester! Distancing will be enforced to keep you safe.  

De-stress event in residence

  • December 23, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. 

Location: 140 90U

Get crafty and de-stress while distancing. Join us in room 140 90U for fun activities including making stress balls, adult colourings, crosswords, sudokus, word searches and more. Give yourself a break and keep your brain active with us before the holidays!

Find the complete schedule of activities by checking out your Residence Life Newsletter!

Holiday Hours : Fitness Centre

Due to the new restrictions announced by the Ontario government on December 21, 2020, sports facilities hours have been removed from this page as they will be closed until further notice as of December 24, 2020.

And check back in January for new activities on the Campus Activities page!

Wellness Webinars

Counselling Services Webinars

The uOttawa Counselling Services offer many webinars on various topics. Here are a few that could be interesting to you or a loved one in these complex times.

Find more webinars

Managing anxiety and stress during COVID-19


When Coping Strategies Turn into Addictions (bilingual)


How to Stay Connected While Physically Distancing


Loss and grief


TAO logo (lotus flower)

TAO (Therapy Assisted Online)

If you want to take advantage of the upcoming downtime to learn new skills related to wellness, we invite you to enroll and try TAO (Therapy Assisted Online), offered by the uOttawa Counselling Services. TAO Self-Help is a platform of tools and educational modules to help you learn about and change how you think and feel. TAO provides therapy to fit your schedule and lifestyle; its educational modules can be completed anytime and anywhere you have Internet access.

Back to top