The Union of Students Ireland (USI) together with Trinity Students’ Union, See Change, and Fighting Words, have succeeding in breaking a Guinness World Record in an attempt to raise awareness about mental health.
935 individuals took part in the attempt to break the record for ‘most people to write a story’. The attempt broke the previous record, in which 838 participants wrote a story in the South Pacific Island of Vanuatu in 2009.
The event took place on October 26th from 8am to 8pm in Trinity College. Students from universities across the country, including UCD, took part. Each person had to handwrite one sentence on the individual manuscript being used.
See Change’s campaign manager, Kahlil Thompson-Coyle explained the aim of the project. “Stigma and silence around mental health problems are still huge issues even for this nation of story-tellers. We’re using this literary theme to send the message that everyone had the power to re-write the story of how mental health is perceived.”
See Change is a non-governmental organisation which runs several initiatives to combat the stigma associated with mental health and encourages the nation to share their problems through dialogue.
The story started off with two main characters, Sarah and Sparky. Sarah was sitting in her exam hall, worrying about university and whether or not she had chosen the right course. After all 935 people had written one sentence, the story developed significantly and included cameo appearances from Harry Potter, David Norris and the Ninja Turtles.
The attempt was supported by Fighting Words, an organisation set up by Roddy Doyle to promote creative writing. It was launched by actress Mary McEvoy, formerly of Glenroe, and UCD student Leanne Waters, both of whom have recently spoken out about their mental health problems.
USI Welfare Officer and former UCD Welfare Officer, Scott Ahearn stresses the importance of raising awareness and speaking out against prejudices about mental health. “We all need to remember that talking is a sign of strength. We are attempting to break a Guinness World Record while also fighting the stigma that is attached to Mental Health. I am proud for the USI to be associated with this event”.
Thomspon-Coyle also stressed the importance of talking about mental health problems to a trusted friend, “talk, that’s the most important thing. Find somebody that you trust: it could be your GP, it could be your family member, it could be a friend. The message we want to get across is that people with mental health problems can and do recover”.