Tuesday 6 December 2016

One in three students 'feel down each day'

Published 07/11/2015 | 10:32

Kevin Donoghue
Kevin Donoghue

More than a third of Irish students feel down every day and it's food that they turn to most for comfort.

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The Union of Students of Ireland (USI) has launched a new "chats for change" campaign with St Patrick's Mental Health Services aimed at tackling the issue.

Students will be encouraged to talk about their mental health while enjoying a cup of tea with someone.

Thousands of tea packs will be distributed at college campuses across the country, which will also include tips on how to start conversations about mental health and useful support service contracts.

The USI figures showed that 36pc said they feel down every day.

Confide

Some 60pc said that they would talk to a friend about it, while 21pc would confide in their family.

Of those surveyed, over one in five (23pc) said what they normally do when they are feeling down is "eat chocolate, cakes, crisps or treat foods".

However, 9pc admitted that they drink alcohol, while under 1pc admitted to taking drugs.

One in 10 said that they exercise when they are feeling down.

"Feeling isolated and hopeless with low self-esteem" was the worst part of feeling low, according to 42pc of respondents.

The head of the USI said that more than a third of students regularly feeling down is an alarming percentage.

"It shows the fragility of the mind when it's faced with multiple strains such as exam and financial stresses. We are urging students to talk about their problems, anxieties or strains to someone," said USI president Kevin Donoghue.

"People should be conscious of how they react to their friends' mental health, because belittling the problem is extremely damaging to those suffering from anxiety, or depression," he said.

Mr Donoghue said that 393 young people under the age of 30 committed suicide last year.

The new campaign aims to change the stigma around mental health and encourage anyone feeling down to get into the habit of talking about it, he stated.

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