Amber flag, boost to mental health week

Last Monday, the Students’ Union hosted Mental Wellbeing Week which sought to highlight the importance of good mental health, reduce stigma attached to mental health issues and promote awareness and education.

Welfare Officer, Domhnaill Harkin, was largely responsible for the running of the weeks events. Harkin said he wanted to make students aware that doing things they enjoy is crucial for one’s mental health. Sleep is the key to his happiness, he shared, “there’s nothing more that I like to do to have a relaxing day than sleeping in.”

The week began with Eve Kerton, last years Welfare Officer, raising the Amber Flag in The Hub on Monday. The Amber Flag is an initiative organised by suicide aware who’s main goal is to promote a culture of positive mental health in the education system and among other organisations. “I’m delighted that we got the flag,” said Kerton.

“I was so so happy that they asked me back. I actually thought it was up during the summer. We got the actual flag at the end of May so I presumed they put it up. So when they asked me back for it, I was absolutely delighted.”

Kerton shared that she hopes Harkin will place a continuous focus on mental health awareness. “I hope that he’ll create a structure for the year because with the amber flag,  it wasn’t just a week, it was something we worked on all year long, it kept us focused. So I’m going to have a chat with him later on and I’m going to see what his long term goals are,” she said.

On Tuesday PEATA brought their dogs to DCU for the day to give students time to relax and play with the dogs.

Education Officer, James Donoghue, was among those in attendance saying “Our main aim for the week is to encourage people to know who we are and if they need to avail of services they can. We want to encourage a more active approach to mental health such as the petting farm, beat the blues boxing session in the gym, the morning walk and with the PEATA dogs.”

The Enactus society took to the campus during the week to hand out free homemade lemonade. The event was a huge success, said Lucy Mangan, headstARTs manager.

“We bought over 200 cups and they were all used up and all our lemonade was also gone.”

Rachel Green, first year student, said, “My favourite event was the farm animal event because I’d never seen an alpaca before up close and personal and I got to stroke it, which was nice.”

Other events organised throughout the week included; free ice cream in the Hub, active listening workshop and Foosball, among others.

Andrew Byrne

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