Head stuff

With the speed and time consumption of student life for many, there are very little opportunities for students to check in on the state of their mental health and where they’re at with their well being before it’s too late.

It is the common culture to ignore any issues in order to plough through and get finished with your degree due to the pressure of parents, family, and societal expectations, meaning these things are pushed aside until they hit a melting point.

If at any stage you get to the point where you’re asking yourself whether or not you should reach out for extra support in times of high stress, periods of sadness, depression, anxieties, and so forth the answer is most definitely yes. If you’ve gotten to the point of considering help then it is time to put your own preconceptions of how you will be viewed aside and seek the help you deserve. Mental illness is like any other sickness, it warrants treatment and will not go away if ignored, you wouldn’t ignore a broken leg and you wouldn’t dismiss an individual with a broken leg for seeking treatment either.

But now there is a question now of whether or not the help that people across Ireland are seeking is there in its most useful and successful forms. With RTÉ investigates showing in March an 18% increase in the prescription of Antidepressants across Ireland between 2012 and 2016, a shortage of counsellors within the HSE being a continual topic within the news and the Dáil, as well as the newest research showing that two in five people within the HSE’s Mental Health Services are reporting ‘poor experiences’.

‘It took over 2 years for me to come off of a waiting list and be treated and throughout my time there I felt I wasn’t being listened to ” said Áine, a 21-year-old DCU graduate, who spent 2 years in state-run mental health services.  “I was continuously being prescribed antidepressants while being told that I did not have clinical depression and eventually stopped attending appointments when my counselling sessions finished.”

The one thing that isn’t bad news here is that while the HSE may cause difficulties for some, as they are overstretched and underfunded, they are not the only option for a person without the means to afford private psychotherapy. Ireland has a plethora of different charities across the country who offer counselling services to help people manage with and deal with mental health difficulties, Pieta House, Shine, SoSad and Jigsaw are just some of the charities that you can get in contact with if yourself or a loved one is struggling who are there to offer support.

Furthermore, as students of DCU, there is the great fortune of having access to DCU’s counselling service. Seeking help really is for most student’s, only a walk away with the Student Advice Centre sitting right in front of the canteen. You can walk in at any time during their open hours be you in crisis or not and you can wait to be seen and talked to about how best to meet your needs, particularly on mental health matters. DCU is also currently in the pilot stages of 24/7 available counselling so it is now quicker than ever for students to seek help that they need.

A sentiment that is echoed by mental health campaigners across the country is that it is “Okay not to be okay.” This phrase is predominantly redundant. It is not okay to not be okay, the very factor of not being okay makes it not okay, campaigners should be focusing now less on acceptance of mental health difficulties and instead shift more towards treatment, there needs to be pressure on policymakers to ensure that the shortcomings that have been seen over the past few months are not left to worsen.

Aoife Horan

Image Credit: Anfocal.ie