The annual Please Talk Day took place on campus last Wednesday, March 26th, focusing on promoting mental health issues on UCD campus and encouraging people to talk about their problems. The day is also used to help inform students about support services in college.
The event was organised by Zoë Forde, Grace O’Hara and Maeve DeSay of the Please Talk committee. The organisers aimed to create their own “mini Mind, Body and Soul Village” with stands set up all around the college.
Speaking to the University Observer, Forde explained some of the organisation that went into Please Talk Day. “The event involved sourcing food donations from companies, bringing in support groups such as BodyWhys and the Irish Guide Dogs onto campus, and working with mental health awareness groups SeeChange and HeadsUp.”
As part of a video project, students were asked to imagine what they would say to a friend who was suffering from a mental illness, while Juggling Soc was on hand juggling and doing face painting. It culminated in an evening screening of Silver Linings Playbook, a film that deals with the theme of mental illness.
The day required coordination between a number of organisations and food was sourced for donation that went into making 500 free tea packs to give to students. Forde believes the day was a success, saying that, “the food and free tea packs went very quickly due to the amount of students at the stands.”
Forde also highlighted the campaign’s strong social media presence. “The reaction was also very positive on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #PleaseTalk.” She feels the event is necessary to allow UCD students to start conversations about mental health and to promote positive mental health.
The Please Talk campaign was set up by three students in UCD in 2007 in response to a number of student deaths by suicide. The campaign has now spread to 27 colleges around the country, including NUI Galway and Trinity College. It is funded by the National Office for Suicide Prevention, and in the future its goal would be to be present on every campus in Ireland.
The Please Talk committee is active on campus all year round. As well as organising the Please Talk Day, they also hold an annual Remembrance Day, a candlelight vigil to remember those who we have lost to suicide. They organise a monthly coffee evening in Residences, the next of which will be in the Glenomena Residences on April 10th.
For those wishing to get involved with Please Talk, any student or faculty member is welcome to join the committee. It will hold its AGM on April 7th when elections will be held for the positions of Chairperson, Secretary, PRO and Events Co-ordinator. Everyone is eligible to run for these positions, even if they are not already on the committee.
Please Talk aims to show that to look for help is a sign of strength and not a sign of weakness. Any student experiencing problems at college, at home or in their personal lives can log onto www.pleasetalk.ie, which operates a directory of the services available to students.