UCC Students’ Union (UCCSU) President, Naoise Crowley informed all students earlier this week via email of their access to Silvercloud: a virtual mental health platform made available to users through Universities, GPs and certain healthcare plans by the company SilverCloud UK. It provides self-directed courses on mental health and well-being. Mr. Crowley described the project, which UCCSU have worked on “for quite some time” as “exciting.” The project is part of a collaboration with UCC Student Counselling and Development, and Graduate Attributes.
When describing what the initiative entails, Mr. Crowley said it is “a clinically researched mental health platform which offers numerous programmes in a variety of areas from resilience and stress management to sleep hygiene and dealing with worry.” The most attractive part of this project is that it is free to all UCC students. Mr. Crowley thanked Tomar Trust for “some generous funding” that makes the platform free of charge to students.
SilverCloud is a completely confidential internet-based platform that delivers online therapeutic and psycho-education programs. A variety of programs aim to offer information and support for people experiencing problems related to mental health. By accessing the website, students can take a short 5-question multiple choice wellbeing quiz, to ‘find the right path’ for them. On the basis of this quiz, which is established with clinical methods, it suggests programmes most suitable for the user. The courses use Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT), which are designed to “help you improve and maintain your wellbeing” by learning and practicing for one hour per week. The programmes cover a vast array of issues and concerns, including money worries, positive body image, resilience, Covid-19, sleep, panic, stress and mindfulness.
In addition to the support and guidance offered by Silvercloud, UCCSU Welfare Officer, Jamie Fraser along with UCCSU ‘Wellbeing crew’ also organised a mental health and wellbeing week in late November. The week incorporated virtual events, as well as some on campus activity, with an ice cream truck on campus on Wednesday afternoon. Events ran throughout the week with external organisations such as Pieta House, Samaritans, Niteline, and Jigsaw. UCC Societies also got involved, with WiStem, Co-operative, Sámh, English Society and the Feminist Society all contributing to events which occurred via Zoom, amongst other platforms.
International Men’s Mental Health Day, on November 19th 2020 was also marked by UCCSU and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), under their campaign ‘don’t man up, speak up.’ UCCSU issued a post on social media to assure students that “mental health is something that we as a Union are passionate about. Whatever the issue, big or small, we are here for you, and we are here to listen.” The campaign from the USI focused on the stigma surrounding men’s mental health, citing that ‘31% of male students thought their problems weren’t bad enough to seek counselling’, with ‘one in four of male students reported having a mental illness.’ Furthermore, their study found that ‘64% of male students who attended campus counselling found it helpful in improving their mental wellbeing.’ UCCSU signed off their post with the quote, matched with an accompanying hand-written sticky note quoting “You are loved, you are unique and you are so important.”
As well as this, the UCC Movember campaign, which was previously covered in University Express, raised over €45,000 for the campaign which focuses on making changes in the areas of mental health and suicide prevention as well as prostate and testicular cancer.
Silvercloud can be accessed through the following link: https://ucc.silvercloudhealth.com/signup/
If you are impacted by any of the issues discussed in this article, please reach out for support by texting ‘UCC’ to 50808. The Samaritans on 116123 and UCCSU Welfare Officer, Jamie Fraser on 086-184-2697.