The Union of Students in Ireland launched its new national student mental health campaign Open Up this morning (March 21) in the Sugar Club, Dublin.
The Open Up campaign encourages third level students to talk more about their mental health to friends, classmates, family and teachers, as well as to mental health and medical professionals when needed.
USI Vice President for Welfare, Somhairle Brennan said: “The aim of the campaign is to encourage students to normalise conversations about how they are feeling and to check-in with one another about their mental health. The theme of the campaign also covers the challenges of society opening up post-pandemic and acknowledges of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student mental health.”
USI will travel to colleges and universities around the country with an Open Up roadshow, as well as running an online campaign through social media and the union’s website at USI.ie.
Over the past number of years, USI has identified encouraging and helping students to be more open about their mental health, and to seek help when needed, as a vital part of its work, as the USI Student Mental Health Report 2019 showed how not talking about problems makes them worse for students.
USI Mental Health Programme Manager, Sarah Hughes said: “In our research, almost 35 per cent of respondents who had not sought any help on or off campus for their mental health reporting having severe to extremely severe depression levels. Almost 40 per cent of respondents who had not sought help for their mental health had severe to extremely severe anxiety levels, while almost 30% of respondent who had not sought help for their mental health had severe to extremely severe stress levels.”
USI is also encouraging and support students to seek professional mental health support when needed, as it has found that there is an over-normalisation of mental ill-health within the student population.
The idea that “everyone is feeling anxious,” and that there is always someone worse off leads to a situation where there is a segment of the student population experiencing high level distress but not seeking help.
You can get more information about USI’s work on mental health campaign here.