Mental health is the big elephant in the room in Irish society. We don’t talk about it, even though 1 in 4 of us will suffer mental health difficulties within our lifetime. Our mental health services are woefully underfunded (even in UCC) and the topic of improving those services was barely a blip on the radar during the recent General Election for most candidates.
Below we have an interview with a student brave enough to come forward and tell us their story of mental health difficulties in UCC. Their comments, published below, remain unedited.
- What is the nature of your degree? (Postgrad, undergrad, college, etc.)
Postgraduate, College of Engineering and Science.
- How many years have you been in UCC?
- Have you ever availed of the services offered by the University? E.g. Disability Support Services (DSS), Counselling, etc.
Yes, Counselling, this year. I don’t think I need the DSS
- What is the nature of your disability?
- How do you feel your disability affected your ability to perform in college?
Some days I couldn’t attend lectures because I simply couldn’t deal with people. I missed out in notes, heard about events and such late, if at all. Then if I missed lectures I couldn’t bring myself to ask someone in the class for notes so I couldn’t quite catch up.
- How have your interactions been with UCC, and with your department?
I didn’t like the department I was in for my undergraduate degree (name withheld). There was one particular occasion when I skipped an entire module, but I handed in my work on time. The lecturer claimed I never handed in anything, and responded badly when I said otherwise. In the end, the computer science department had to look into my account to prove that I did email in my work, and the student records office had to change my grade because the lecturer put me through as a fail.
- What else do you think could be done to help students in need?
The Counselling service needs to be given more funding and advertised more. My undergraduate degree would have been a far nicer experience if I had had the support I needed, and if I had known it was even available in the first place.
- Any words for anyone in a similar situation?
Regardless of whatever personal issues you’re going through, don’t try to face it on your own. Your issues don’t have to be big ones, you don’t need to have crippling social anxiety, depression, bulimia, or anything to that effect. Sometimes we just need support; sometimes we just need someone to listen to us so I would encourage everyone to reach out. Life isn’t about managing to not fall down, what matters is whether or not you can bounce.
Counselling services are available within the UCC Health Centre (On College Road, behind the O’RB).
- Telephone: 021 4903565
- Text: 087 2152505 (please include your full name when texting)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call to reception: Room 6 Ardpatrick, College Road, Cork.
Your first appointment will generally be about 20-30 minutes long where you discuss with your counselor what your issues are, and they can get a feel for what suits you best. At the end of that appointment, and if you feel counselling would be useful to you, you can make another appointment. If your first counselor doesn’t suit you, don’t worry, you won’t always gel with your counselor; there is no problem going back to the Counselling office and asking to try someone else. What is most important is that you feel comfortable and supported while you work through your issues.
The problem with this service is that, like most of its counterparts, they are overworked and underfunded, so you may be waiting 2 weeks+ to be seen. In the meantime you can avail of other services;
- Samaritans: 116123 (free call, 24/7)
- Your UCC Course Coordinator: If you are experiencing difficulty with your academic work, please approach either your course coordinator or another staff mentor/lecturer. They will advise and support you. If you are unsure who your course coordinator is, they should be listed in the Book of Modules on the UCC website.
- Student Health: 021 490 2311
- Disability Support Service: 021 490 2985
- Niteline:Thursday 9pm-1am. Freephone 1800 32 32 42.
- Students’ Union Welfare Officer; 086 383 6794
If you know someone who isn’t a student but is experiencing difficulties, there are plenty of services around Cork;
South Lee Mental Health Services
Administration Office, Block 2, St. Finbarrs Hospital Campus, Douglas Road, Cork Tel; 021 4927182 or 021 4927284
Dean Clinic cork
Dean Clinic Cork, Citygate , Mahon, Cork, Tel: 021-4614460
The Hazelton Clinic
Ardfallen Medical Center, Douglas Road, Cork, Tel; (021) 493 6006
Youth Health Service (Note, this is only available to people 23 and under)
Penrose House, Penrose Quay, Cork, Ireland, Tel; 076 1084150 Mobile text service; 087 7175615
If you really feel like you cannot wait, you can also go to A&E.
**The services that are not controlled by UCC may have a charge, but many places have a sliding scale and are willing to accommodate you based on your income.
I know it’s daunting. I was chronically ill for years and it really took a toll on my mental health. One of the biggest mistakes I made was trying to deal with it alone. There are services out there; you don’t have to live your life in pain, pretending everything is okay when you feel like you’re breaking inside. If you do one thing for yourself today, make the call. Send the email. Talk to someone. Just remember, when you’re at rock bottom, things can only get better.