A national student mental health campaign ‘ReCharge’ and the ‘+Connections’ app were launched by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) in University College Cork (UCC) on Monday, November 12th.
The campaign was launched with the support of Minister Jim Daly, who has special responsibility for mental health and older people, alongside the HSE, in response to concerns over student mental health.
It aims to empower and encourage students to seek support and take time to recharge their mental health by focusing on the three aspects of student life that most commonly affect it; sleep hygiene, exam stress and alcohol consumption.
In a survey conducted by the USI which asked students if they had experienced mental health difficulties in the past 12 months “1084 (32 per cent) said that they had often and 568 (17 per cent) said all the time. A whopping 24 per cent of those surveyed said they were unawareon-campusmpus services for mental health,” USI President Síona Cahill said that
The +Connections app aims to reduce this percentage with the ‘Mapping Feature’ which links into the phone’s GPS and directs students to the location of the services available to support their mental health.
It provides information for students on approaching a friend if you are worried about their mental health as well as hosts a blog where students can discuss mental health and how it relates to themselves.
Speaking about the campaign which aims to deliver on commitments under the national suicide prevention strategy, Assistant National Director for Mental Health Operations, Jim Ryan said “We wanted to work with USI to create a campaign that would not only signpost to available supports and services but would focus on building resilience.”
The USI Vice President for Welfare, Damien McClean said students often know that support services exist but they feel like their problems are not serious enough to warrant using them.
“Students across Ireland have limited amount of energy due to college and work commitments, and we are saying it’s okay to take time to recharge yourself,” he said.
Minister Daly spoke at the launch to thank the USI for the work being done on mental health at third level. While he acknowledged the need for serious conversation about where we are going in the area of mental health he said the “USI have shown great leadership today in launching this app (+Connections) and providing a tool for every student to direct and signpost them to the appropriate services available.”
Aoife O’ Brien