The third welfare crew meeting of the year, chaired by UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) Vice-President for Welfare and Equality Officer, Cian Dowling, focused on suicide awareness and the expansive network of support available to those students who are experiencing any sort of problem in their lives.
The topic was prioritised over the course of the 90-minute meeting where the Welfare Crew Secretary took “seven pages of pure ideas” to make suicide awareness a focus for the Welfare Crew for the near future.
Around 50 people attended the meeting, and Dowling is hopeful that that is the number can be maintained over the course of the year to promote positive ideals throughout campus.
Speaking about the success of the meeting, Dowling also revealed that he made arrangements to double the hours that an external counselor will be available to students in a reactive step to the large increase in students who need to be seen by someone as a matter of urgency.
Dowling admitted that certain things had to be moved around in the welfare budget, but that “there was no question of it, that’s the most important thing; student support, student safety.” He also highlighted the myriad of support systems available for those who need to talk.
Within UCD alone there is the welfare service, student advisors, the chaplaincy and the counseling service. All are non-judgmental outlets to talk, vent or just sit and be supported with any problem or issue you are experiencing.
Dowling was keen to stress that there is a united front from all services on campus to promote mental health awareness. “Everyone’s number one message this week is to have a look at all the support networks.
“There’s a massive network of people, the cornerstones being the Welfare office, the counselling service, the student advisors and the chaplaincy. We all have this combined effort at the minute of making sure everyone knows what we do, that we’re here.”
Dowling is also in the process of taking “practical steps” towards promoting those services through a series of videos going to the core of the availability of support including how to get to the counseling service.
The recent mental health week also prompted the promotion of the message of Please Talk and the hope that it will be possible to break the stigma of mental health by actively seeking to make it trend on Twitter and Facebook.
All these campaigns and support urge openness and acceptance and are available to anyone no matter what their situation. The counseling service, in particular, is a free resource based in the Student Health Centre that is utilised daily by students with all types of issues. Lack of finance is no barrier to seeking help as the Welfare Fund and numerous other supports are available to those for whom money is a constant worry.
Dowling encouraged those who are interested to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved in raising awareness of those issues that most effect student welfare on a daily basis. The crew is open to all students and is always looking for vital student input and support.