According to the Union of Students in Ireland, 36% of students feel down every day and the most common thing they do in those circumstances is eat chocolate, cakes, crisps, or other “treat” foods.
The survey found 83% of students said talking to someone helped when they are depressed, which is why the USI is launching its ‘Chats for Change’ campaign with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services from next Tuesday, urging third-level students to talk about mental health while enjoying a cup of tea.
Thousands of tea packs will be distributed across college campuses nationwide and they will also include tips on how to start conversations about mental health.
The ‘Chats for Change’ tea packs will contain tips on taking the fear out of talking about mental health, and will include useful support service contacts, all of which is aimed at encouraging students to make time and space to chat about their mental health.
The ‘Chats for Change’ Campus Road Show will run from 10am to 3pm from November 9 to 13 in campuses across Ireland such as DIT, Maynooth, Athlone IT, CIT, and UCC.
“More than a third of students regularly feeling down is an alarming percentage,” said Kevin Donoghue, Union of Students in Ireland president.
“It shows the fragility of the mind when it’s faced with multiple strains such as exam and financial stresses.
“We are urging students to talk about their problems, anxieties, or strains to someone,” he added. “People should be conscious of how they react to their friends’ mental health because belittling the problem is extremely damaging to those suffering from anxiety or depression, as the statistics show.”
Around 20% of students said the worst thing someone can say to them when they’re feeling down is “man up”, while 18.3% of students said “cheer up” is the worst.
Mr Donoghue said 393 young people under the age of 30 committed suicide last year and, according to the study, 43% of students said the worst part of feeling down is feeling isolated and hopeless, with low self- esteem.
“We want to change these feelings,” he said.
“The Chats for Change campaign aims to change the stigma around mental health and encourage anyone feeling down to get into the habit of talking about it.”