USI’s Somhairle Brennan offers some pointers on how to deal with college stress.
It is undeniable that students had a tough time during the pandemic, especially those making the transition from secondary school to college. After being deprived of their ability to socialize with their peers and banned from online lectures and classrooms, the pressure to suddenly become a proactive learner can negatively impact students’ mental health.
According to Somhairle Brennan, vice president of the Irish Students’ Association, there is an urgent need for more funds for mental health support in higher education and for more stable and clearer plans for the allocation of those funds.
USI 2021 image Conor McCabe Photography.
“Of course, at the start of the pandemic, we welcomed the government’s increased funding specifically to support college students, but that was reactionary,” says Brennan. “It was a consequence of the pandemic, but that funding was needed anyway, and it has to stay in place in the future.”
However, Somhairle says there are still plenty of options for college students who feel like they are struggling, and here he gives his key pointers on how to take care of your mental health while in college …
See your college counseling services – they are usually free.
“Most universities will offer some kind of advice service that students can use free of charge. It is usually quite easy to access. Just go to their website and google the corresponding advisory service at your university. Then in some cases it sends an email, in others it fills out online forms. “
Find local services tailored to your needs.
“There are universal services, and there are those that are tailored to specific issues and that vary from campus to campus and from university to university.
“If a student is struggling with a non-consensual sexual experience, they can always turn to a local rape crisis center. They can also contact their GP as they will be able to advise on what local support is available.
“Or, if a student is struggling with an eating disorder, they can turn to BodyWhys for more detailed advice on these issues. It is very case-dependent, but there is so much support. ”
Talk to your colleagues and get involved in social groups on campus.
“The isolation and removal from society as a result of the pandemic means people are much more lonely. Students in particular were unable to have these natural, everyday social interactions that might go unnoticed in a normal time.
“In many cases someone could just look for this informal support. Getting involved in social groups and societies on campus could be the reassurance a student needs. ”
Register or contact your student union.
“I would advise that to many students and fellow students. Her local student union is one of her most valuable assets when it comes to getting support with anything but mental health specifically. Contacting your local student union gives them a peer-to-peer experience on how to take care of their spiritual wellbeing.
“It can be another channel of support and a really holistic way of knowing that you have people by your side. Especially for people who are not sure whether their mental health problems are serious enough to seek professional help.
“The local student body will also be able to identify early on whether the students’ mental health is affecting their college work or whether they are struggling with the academic side of things.
“As the SUs return to campus, they are beginning to have an open door policy. Students will be able to knock on the door and receive that kind of gentle, informal support instead of feeling like they need to push themselves. This could be very useful for students with anxiety, for example. ”
Know that it is important and good to take care of your mental health.
“Getting support should be seen as a positive thing. It should never be the case that someone feels they are unable to use services. ”
For more information, visit usi.ie or contact your on-campus student union.