Yesterday, UCDSU in partnership with UCD Student Counselling services launched their mental health initiative entitled Reimagining Mental Health: The Art of Living in Challenging Times.
As part of the programme, nine events are going to be held over the duration of the year, where various topics such as loneliness, anxiety and loss will be discussed.
The first event, Loneliness and Disconnection: Forming Friendships, Integrating and reintegrating in College life post-Covid Isolation was launched the day after World Mental Health day, and on its list of speakers included UCD President Andrew Deeks and former Tánaiste and current Chancellor of the University of Limerick, Mary Harney.
Caroline Ward, a Student Counsellor from UCD Counselling Services gave an audience of approximately 40 an insight into the demand for their services “Since the return to campus, the demand for counselling has risen 50% compared to last year”, saying that “there are avalanches of people coming our way”. Despite the ratio of counsellor to student being 1:4,200, the counselling services have “increased accessibility and decreased waiting times significantly”, and “can provide daily crisis and same day meetings.” Ward went on to clarify that while educational aspirations are of significant importance, “the measure of society is how we listen to those who fall out of our systems.”
While Ms. Ward commended her team on their hard work in the servicing of UCD students, she maintained that her “goal ultimately is to become redundant.” Ward said that “we need to look at the structures in which we live” and asked the question of UCD, “is this a business or is it actually (educational)?”
UCDSU President Ruairí Power echoed this sentiment, by stating that “there is a clear need for the development of a campus wide student support system”, and enforced the need for “appropriate financial backing”.
President Deeks made a short speech where he asserted that “the mental health of our students is of utmost concern to me”, and that “compassion is a core value of UCD that informs our decision making.”
Mary Harney delivered a speech, where she spoke about the numerous pressures facing young people entering third level education. Of these, Harney mentioned the “sheer shortage and cost of accommodation”, and how “if we don’t live in something decent, it is hard to be motivated.” Harney regarded yesterday’s launch as a “ purposeful initiative”, saying that she believes”it’s important that students know there is a service there” and that services need to reach out (to students).”
The next event is scheduled for November 9, and is entitled Love Island: The Tyranny of the Perfect Body.