A previous version of this article erroneously stated that Eoghan Mc Donnell was the UCD SU Welfare Officer, where in fact it is Ruairi Power. This has been updated and the appropriate contact details have been filled in.
Here we are again; just under a week into Lockdown 2.0. Now more than ever we will need our friends and family to stick by us all to make sure we get through this difficult time of isolation, stress and uncertainty.
Mental health has been an issue in Ireland for the last five years, with this current pandemic being the flood that has broken through the cracks in that dam wall. According to the Irish Times back in 2018, “18.5 per cent of the Irish population was recorded as having a mental health disorder, such as anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, or alcohol or drug use, in 2016”.
Students in particular have been suffering with the stress of college, worrying about the future while also trying to outgrow their past. In 2019, up a third of students reported experiencing depression, severe anxiety and stress.
Now though, students are feeling alone, under pressure and blamed for the second wave, which has put even more stress on the already stressful experience of going to college and trying to grow out from the shadow of who they were in secondary school.
But how did we get here? Things were looking great mid-way through the summer, weren’t they? After the initial shock of everything moving online in March, lecturers were figuring things out at the same time students were, they were understanding of the difficult times, and people were just getting used to being unable to go further than 5km from their homes.
Then the reopening began, and we could meet up with our friends, loved ones, significant others, colleagues and that person down the hall that you were thinking about all lockdown. After months of waiting for their summer to begin, students could finally go back to the gym, or earn some money with a part time job. “Finally, we are opening up,” we thought. And that is what makes this that much more difficult for so many of us.
We got that taste of normality again. But now, as quick as freedom was given back to us, it was taken away. The strain that these next few months will have on the average student’s mental health could have a devastating effect on their future, which is why it is important that we all look out for one another.
Timing could not be worse for this new lockdown, especially for students. As students enter week six of lectures, deadlines are beginning to mount up, and students could do with a break from their computer screens. Instead, as days get shorter, students are spending their days in dark rooms, staring at blue-light screens. Things can begin to feel artificial at this point.
But it is important to remember what we can still do. We can still meet up with a person outside your home, within 5km, to have a walk in a park, catch up and check in. We can still exercise outdoors, despite the cold. Even those that live alone can join up with neighbours to form support bubbles if you feel overwhelmed by it all.
This too shall pass. In the meantime, The College Tribune urges everyone to check in on that friend you haven’t heard from in a while, take a walk outside with someone that doesn’t live with you, and, if needed, reach out for help from the various support services available to you. It is okay to not be okay during these times.
The following services are available to any and all students that may need them during these difficult times:
UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer: Ruairi Power
Individual chaplains available at: https://www.ucd.ie/chaplaincy/meettheteam/
UCD Students’ Counselling service:
Call: 01 716 3134
The Samaritans: Dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection.
Call: 116 123
Aware: Depression & Bipolar Disorder Support.
Call: 1800 80 48 48
Pieta House: Free therapeutic support to people who are in suicidal distress.
Call: 1800 247 247
Turn2me: Self-help, peer support and professional support through an online platform.
Grow: Mental Health support and Recovery Organisation.
Call: 1890 474 474