home Editorial, Features It’s time to talk about our mental health | Annie Hoey

It’s time to talk about our mental health | Annie Hoey

     What was it that I said about the best laid plans of mice and men?? Well, it obviously didn’t stick for myself! I handed up my thesis last week literally two minutes before the deadline. And I dare not even look into the (ridiculously expensive) bound copy to see the inevitable spelling mistakes…

     So I am going to start afresh this week. I have my notes ready for class. I have watched the set film and read the set texts. I have a new pen and a fresh notepad. No more acting the maggot for me! I will attend lots of society events. And hey, who knows, I might even make it to the gym sometime…

     Speaking of taking care of myself and getting my life into order, do you know that it is World Mental Health Day on October 10th? The idea behind World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness on issues pertaining to our mental health, be that any one of numerous mental health issues or simply learning how to take care of your mental health.

     As students we tend to avoid taking care of our mental health. Mental health issues still have a stigma attached to them. Somehow, we see them as being ‘softer’ than ‘regular’ health issues. As someone who suffers from Panic Disorder, I know only too well the stigma associated with mental health issues. People question whether it is a real illness or if you are simply doing it for attention. Well I can assure you that it isn’t for attention and that it is very real to the person suffering. Just because you cannot see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

     We need to not only start taking better care of our on mental health, but of others too. In the hubbub of college life it is easy not to notice a friend become withdrawn and retreating from college. We need to become more aware of mental health issues as potentially affecting us all. Sit down and genuinely ask someone how they are. Highlight the fact that you notice that they do not seem themselves lately. They may not answer you. They may tell you to back off and that it is none of you business. And that is fair enough. But trust me: the fact that someone even asked will make all the difference. They may decide to seek help. They may talk to you again about it. But they also may decide to do nothing about it. Ultimately it is their decision what to know but the knowledge that they have a friend who cares is of the upmost importance.

     UCC has a wealth of resources available to students. There is the Health Centre and the Counselling service. There is the SU who has an officer, Dave Carey, who is dedicated to dealing with students’ welfare. There is the Disability Support Service, the mature student office, the postgraduate office and a whole other list of resources available to help students take care of their mental health. Evidentially from the myriad of resources available, UCC places mental health as an issue of priority. So take advantage of these services.

     Maybe you could just stop and reflect on the state of your mental health on October 10th. See if there are any changes you can make to your life that will ensure that you take care of your mental health. Be that scheduling in some hours for exercise every week, organising your notes better, making time to chat to a friend or even simply booking time out to do nothing! But try to reflect on your mental health. At the end of the day, you are the only person who knows how you are feeling on the inside. Take pride in taking care of your mental health. There is no shame in it. I have just announced myself as someone who suffered from a mental health illness to the whole of UCC. I am not ashamed of it-  I take pride on the fact that I have overcome such an illness and it is now no longer something that defines me. And I know I am not the only person reading this who has or is suffering from a mental health issue.

     So I have one more addition to my best laid plans- take Wednesday October 10th as my Mental Health Day. Reflect on my achievements and what I have overcome. Set out goals for the year so as to keep my mental health in check. Organise to meet with a friend and just check in with them on how they are feeling. And I suggest you do the same. Because we can have all the best laid plans in the world but they come to naught if you do not take care of yourself and ensure your own mental well-being. I urge you to look after yourself, both mentally and physically, so as to ensure you have the best possible experience of UCC and student life.

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