Michael Hennessy, HSE Service Improvement Lead Mental Health, Prof. Maggie Cusack, President of Munster Technological University, and Thomas Broderick, Sport, Leisure and Childhood Studies Department lecturer at the official launch of a student mental health campaign. Photo: Gerard McCarthy

MTU and HSE collaborate

A campaign to raise awareness around common mental health difficulties among students is being launched in Cork following alarming new findings.

MTU, its Students Union, and the HSE are collaborating on the campaign after research by the HSE found that half of Irish adults have experienced a mental health issue at some time.

According to HSE senior clinical psychologist Mark Smyth, if young people can spot small things in themselves that are starting to persistently bother them, seeking advice and support as soon as they become aware of them can really help.

“This isn’t always easy as the busyness of life can distract young people from the impact that low mood, stress, anxiety and lack of sleep can have on them,” said Mr Smyth.

He added: “If students become aware of their thoughts and feelings, the information on yourmentalhealth.ie can help them to understand the effects on them and to find solutions. Recognising the signs and their effects before they deteriorate can empower students to take control and seek support early on.”

The HSE’s research also found that many people reported that sleep is key for maintaining positive mental health and equally that problems with sleep contribute to poor mental health. Mr Smyth continued: “Keeping an eye on one’s sleep pattern is essential. Students are juggling different aspects of academic life and need energy. If any students have gotten into a habit of staying up late and want to change this, try starting with pulling it back by 15 minutes a night.”

Mr Smyth advises practical help for students focusing on daily exercise, a healthy diet, a healthy sleep pattern and social interaction.

“While these techniques may not make you extremely happy immediately, they will assist in improving your mental health to perhaps finding contentment,” he said.

MTU President, Prof. Maggie Cusack, said: “Our students are the heart of our university. The practical messages promoted through this campaign will ensure our students are informed and empowered to make better decisions around their mental health as they journey through MTU.”

Derek Chambers, HSE general manager, Mental Health Operations, added: “Our research found that young people, particularly men, are hesitant to talk about their mental health with close friends, family or a GP and we want them to know that it’s good to talk and seek help at the earliest opportunity.”