Collins hoping to remove mental health stigma

Students’ Union Welface Officer, Neil Collins, is hoping that DCU’s Mental Health Awareness Week will remove the stigma from mental health problems. Collins hopes that students will open up about mental health and has a week full of events in order to inform students.

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place in DCU this week, with another expected in the second semester.

“We’re hoping to achieve awareness about mental health”, Collins told The College View. “We’re hoping to encourage people that sharing their story is the best practice and we’re hoping to take the stigma away from having mental health problems.

“Our tag line for the week is ‘Share Your Stories’, so basically we want people to open up about what problems they have.”

Collins is hopeful that people will seek help, rather than keeping a problem to themselves.

“In a lot of cases, you don’t have to actively look for help; you just need to speak to those close to you. A lot of people feel, even if it’s a small problem, that they don’t feel the need to talk about it, because they feel they’re maybe burdening other people. But when you don’t talk about small things, they can escalate.”

The Students’ Union’s flagship charity for this year is Headstrong, The National Centre for Youth Mental Health. Collins is delighted that his chosen charity has been picked at this year’s flagship charity.

“We all gave a shout for our charity for the year, and I put forward Headstrong, and we had to chose one to be 50%, with the other two to be 25% each. Luckily Headstrong was voted to be our flagship charity for the year and I’m personally delighted with that. I think it gives a good message too from us that the Union are showing that they are prioritising mental health.”

DCU will have another Mental Health Awareness Week next semester, while this week will see many clubs and societies also work toward fundraising for mental health.

“I’ll have another one in the second semester too, so definitely we’ll highlight it and make a difference for mental health in DCU. We’ve loads of events including the UV wall and we’ll also have a new video for mental health, tying it in with Halloween.

“There’s load of them helping, it’s brilliant. Colin Brennan and Ciaran O’Connor are also going to do a 24-hour broadcast in association with the Students’ Union and the money that they raise for that will go to Headstrong. Also, Music Soc are doing a bit of busking on Thursday, which is great.”

Collins said that a fundraising target was still being calculated but that any money that is raised will help Headstrong.

Brendan White

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