In April, young people and professionals came together to highlight what we need to do to achieve better mental health and a sense of belonging for students in third-level education. Today the report on the findings of this event is being launched.
Jigsaw, the youth mental health charity, and HSE Mental Health and Wellbeing, co-hosted a roundtable event which gathered together university staff, national stakeholders and, most importantly, higher education students from across Ireland to talk through what is needed to support the mental health of higher education students.
Jigsaw and UCD School of Psychology’s My World Survey 1 and 2 found that 58% of higher education students were outside the normal range for depression and anxiety. The top three stressors students identified were college, finances and the future.
The discussion was an opportunity to share current good practice across colleges and universities, but also focused on gaps – what needs to be done to help? The discussions highlighted that students must be key partners and are central to any initiatives on student mental health. “As students we know what works best…Our message to you is to take on these findings, whilst being aware that plenty of students are keen to support and advise your projects” says Aisling Dillon, a Jigsaw Youth Advocate and university student, speaking at the launch of the report.
Participants emphasised that the success of student mental health promotion initiatives depends on a whole college approach, with all staff having a role to play alongside significant buy in from senior leadership.
Evidence shows that mental health needs to be addressed both inside and outside the lecture rooms, but for anything to have an impact, more resources are needed. National collaboration is key, and results should be shared across universities.
The Higher Education Authority will consider the recommendations of this report while keeping in mind the work being undertaken across the sector to support student and staff health and wellbeing. The report can be read in full at jigsaw.ie/roundtable