Student hub: Have your say

ARE mental-health services catered for on your campus?

Have your say on how your college caters for students in need of mental-health services

Mental health issues have become a growing problem among students and academics in recent years. 

Is there an awareness among your fellow students of the importance of mental well being? Are on-campus services adequate enough to ensure that the needs of students and staff are met?

The Irish Times recently reported a dramatic increase in the number of students registering at third level with mental health conditions. Read about it here


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How is the mental health debate unfolding on your campus?

“the stresses of the transition to third level, the move away from home, the workload, new friendships all may trigger a latent mental health difficulty” - Esther Murphy, author of Mental Health Matters – Mapping Best Practices in Higher Education 


UCD has been in the news a lot due to the waiting lists for our mental health services which currently sits at 12 weeks. The mental health system in UCD cannot cope with demand and students are suffering as a result. Charities like Pieta House and MyMind are being put under more pressure as students seek help outside their own college. They can only do so much so colleges like UCD are going to have to step up and take the mental wellbeing of their students more seriously. Students are more stressed than ever due to rising financial costs in fees and accommodation costs. Increasing costs means more students are having to work longer hours in their part time jobs to support themselves meaning they're exhausted. Couple that with study and having some form of social life and it's easy to see why more students are suffering from mental health issues. Students are probably the most open to talking about mental health problems particularly anxiety and depression. The most refreshing and honest conversations I have had regarding mental health have come from people my own age. There is more awareness needed of things like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. People also need to realise that saying things like ‘she’s so bipolar’ or ‘he went a bit schizo’ are inherently harmful and increase stigma around these disorders. - Rachel O’Neill, UCD

Relying on anecdotal evidence from the library, it’s fair to say that exam stress levels are high, stragglers arrive in at midday, too late to find a seat. Exam pressure will be somewhat alleviated next year given the introduction of semesterization, meaning that students will no longer be examined in May on subjects they took before Christmas. In dealing with this seasonal pressure however, Trinity students are fortunate enough to have a wide range of mental health services that cater to a number of different situations; from professional, free counseling, to the anonymous phone/web service Niteline, who are around when you need someone to listen, and the student led S2S, who provide both personal peer support, as well as general college advice. Additionally this year, the SU are running the Fit2Sit campaign, working with different bodies within the college to ensure that students are confident, calm, and prepared before the exams start. - Louise Lawless, TCD

Students can wait for up to six weeks for access to the one on one counselling services DCU offers. Students who have more urgent needs are “fast-tracked” while others can be waiting just under two months before being seen. Following the incorporation in 2016, which saw the amalgamation of the Glasnevin campus, St Pats and Mater Dei, the number of students has increased largely but the number of counsellors hasn’t. There are now around 17,000 students in DCU and this has caused an increasing demand on the mental health services. However, the students who have availed of the services said that the counsellors show great care when they are able to see them. University life can be stressful, especially if you are balancing a part-time job on top of full-time education and this can at times have an adverse effect on students’ mental health. There is definitely a more willingness to discuss mental health issues though, as fewer student begin to view mental health as a taboo topic. - Shauna Bowers, DCU

DIT offers students many avenues towards the betterment of mental health; there is a counselling service in place with a maximum wait of 4 weeks for an appointment. The Student Health Centre honours appointments within a week of being made but emergency slots can be made available sooner. The Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care team operates a drop-in service - this group deals with many bereavements and hold mindfulness classes each week. DITSU student advisors are full time staff whose task it to field queries on exams and assignments and help students on the hunt for accommodation. These fully trained staff operate confidentially. Finally, the DIT Accommodation and Finance committee help students in cases of homelessness and extreme financial difficulty. - Mark Donlon, DIT.

A quick stroll around the Glucksman Library this week will show that students here in UL are feeling the end-of-semester stress. With exams looming and deadlines mounting, most students are under some form of academic pressure, with many also under financial stress, worrying about summer job prospects or dealing with pre-existing mental health issues. UL’s student counselling service Éist are running a series of workshops to help students manage their mental health in this stressful time with ‘stress buster’ and ‘relaxation’ workshops which will help students build resilience and reduce vulnerability to falling victim to unhelpful levels of stress and anxiety. Drop-in sessions are also available Monday through Friday at 11am-12pm and 2pm-3pm, where you can be seen by an assistant psychologist who can offer help and guidance. – Nicole Glennan UL

Let us know how the campaign is unfolding on your campus. Contact us by email (studenthub@irishtimes.com)