The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is distributing thousands of ‘Chats For Change’ packs to colleges around Ireland this week encouraging students to talk about their mental health. Celebrating its 5th year, the campaign will see a ‘Chats For Change’ roadshow visiting UCC, Athlone IT, NUI Galway and IADT from January 29th to February 1st in partnership with Please Talk, Walk In My Shoes, and the HSE.

Speaking ahead of the launch in UCC, USI President Michael Kerrigan, said,

“The HEA Eurostudent Survey published last week reported 83% of students with mental health problems want or need support from public or institutional bodies. We’re hoping our ‘Chats For Change’ packs can be a reminder for students that there are free services available for them or their friends, if they want to talk. Even just asking a fellow student ‘how are you?’ over a cup of tea, can make a real change.”

Speaking about the launch of the ‘Chats For Change’ campaign, HSE National Director for Community Operations, Ms Anne O’Connor said,

“We are delighted to support The Chats for Campaign in its 5th year of running. The key aim of this campaign is to encourage third level students to talk about their mental health openly during normal encounters like over a cup of tea. This is something we promote through our Little Things campaign which was designed to remind all of us of the simple and powerful day-to-day steps that we can all take to protect our own mental health, and support the people we care about.

“It’s vitally important that students remember that as well as sleeping and eating well, doing things with others or sharing a problem with a friend are all proven to have a positive impact on their mental health. This initiative forms part of our efforts to deliver on our commitments under ‘Connecting for Life’, the national suicide prevention strategy.”

“College is a very stressful time for students and stigma should not prevent us from accessing support.” Treasa Hanniffy, National, Please Talk Officer, said.

“Chats For Change reminds students how a good cuppa and talk with someone they trust can really improve their mental health. By having these chats about mental health gives us the courage to say things aren’t okay and that we need help. Seeking help and talking about our mental health is a sign of strength.”

Campaign partner and Project Manager from Walk In My Shoes, Amanda McArdle, said,

“We know that 75% of all mental health difficulties begin before 24 years of age, so it is hugely important to encourage students at third level to start the conversation around mental health. The students we meet during the College road show always have a great attitude towards Chats for Change. Every year we see the campaign grow and we are delighted that St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services is a partner organisation for the 5th year running, through our Walk in My Shoes campaign.”

USI is urging students to visit their Students’ Union to pick up a ‘Chats For Change’ pack with the message that talking is a sign of strength, and being there for each other is what makes a campus a strong community.

If students need support, please contact:

  •   Samaritans – 116 123
  •   Aware – 1800 80 48 48
  •   Pieta House – 1800 247 247
  •   Walk In My Shoes – 01 249 33 33
  •   LGBT Helpline – 1890 929 539