Student Mental Health: 1 in 3 Experience Depression

Student Mental Health: 1 in 3 Experience Depression

A recent survey on student mental health, conducted by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), reveals that a large number of students are or have experienced some sort of mental health issue, ranging from anxiety to depression.

A total of 3,340 students across the island of Ireland responded to the survey with 38.4% of these reporting “extremely severe levels of anxiety”, 29.9% reporting depression and 32.2% of respondents saying they had a formal diagnosis of mental health difficulties at some point in their lives. The study shows that gender is a significant factor: non-binary students have the highest levels of severe anxiety at 61.3% while transgender students are most likely to be “severely extremely depressed.” A financial factor on student mental health also comes up with 52% of those depending on Credit Union loans reporting severe anxiety. 77.8% of those without stable living arrangements report depression. 23% of students surveyed had used an on-campus counselling service in the past while only 0.4% report that there was no wait in accessing the service. Most people find the service helpful but only 36.8% report being offered as many sessions as they needed. The majority of those who reported having a formal diagnosis of a mental health difficulty made use of the counselling service.

The report includes some qualitative elements with respondents given the opportunity to share some comments on their experiences of seeking help and their opinions. There were a wide range of experiences with both very positive and very negative feedback coming through. What comes through very strongly is the fact that students are most likely to seek help from an on-campus counselling service but there is also an inconsistency in the success of help available. For some students, the long waiting lists have been a barrier to them using the counselling service while others found the counselling services were under-resourced and not equipped to deal with their specific range of needs. At the launch of the report in Trinity College Dublin Gertie Raftery of the PCHEI (psychological counsellors in higher education in Ireland) commented about difficulties with the transience of students and the need for students to be able to access the same full range of care while at college as they can at home. Students may find they have to go through the convoluted process of transferring between local mental health services when they go away to college. A kind of health passport has been mentioned as a possible solution whereby students could easily access a full range of mental health services both at their place of study and at home.

Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor opened the launch. The minister spoke at length about the need for increased mental health literacy and also put the onus on the Higher Education Institutes (HEI) to respond to the report. However, she seemed reluctant to mention increased funding or resources for third level mental health services nor did she seem to address students’ difficulties in accessing mental health services while studying away from home. Later at the launch a student panel highlighted the need for funding and investment in fully staffed counselling services, but the minister had left by that stage.

In its pre-budget submission for the upcoming budget, USI have already proposed €100,000 additional funding per HEI which would cover the average salary of 1.5 additional counselling psychologists, €120,000 per HEI to support the adoption of a peer-lead support programme, and  €500,000 funding to support a pilot programme of 5 Student Support Coordinators for more effective case management for students who have complex mental health difficulties. It is still unclear if these proposals will be met. 

Ruairí Weiner is the President of Maynooth University Mental Health Society and was asked by the USI to give a student response to the report which is included as part of the report

Photo: Ruairi Weiner, Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor, USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick, Former Chairperson of DCU Mental Health Society Sorcha Murphy

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Student Mental Health: 1 in 3 Experience Depression

A new report from USI about the mental health of Irish students revealed that increased funding and coordinated actions are is needed to better support students. Ruairi Weiner reports.

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Mexico: local communities save endangered turtles from extinction

Mexico: local communities save endangered turtles from extinction

At the Ayotlcalli Sea Turtle and Conservation centre, locals and volunteers from across the world join forces to save turtles from extinction.

The centre, situated in Playa Blanca Zihuatanejo, Guerrero in Mexico, was founded in September 2011. “This area had been neglected by the authorities, therefore, sea turtles and their nests had been taken by poachers, dogs and wild animals in regular basis” Damaris, founder of the centre, explained. “We decided to take action in order to help sea turtles from extinction, with an objective to protect three species of marine turtles that nest within 15 kilometres of the beach.”

But she doesn’t do this work alone. For Damaris, it was essential to involve the local population in the project, especially the young generation. The children’s summer camp “Guerreros del Arcoiris” intends to establish strong foundation on conservation. Damaris said, “children are the future leaders and decision makers in the community, therefore they need the knowledge and training to make the right choices.”

Today the project welcomes volunteers from all around Mexico, and from abroad. Valeria, who traveled from Mexico City to take part in the project, said:, “I wanted to live the experience, it’s the best idea because you help a little in the world by saving turtles.”

Max is another volunteer who came from the Mexican state of Toluca, “I knew about the camp two years ago because my brother went and he spoke to me about his experience, he told me about the people he met and the work they did with turtles. For me to help people to work on something so important and something that comes from your heart, it sounded amazing so I had to be a volunteer.”

A few of the local people involved have started a patrolling system, where they travel up and down the beach every night on a quad to make sure the turtles, and their eggs, are safe.

Damaris works in the education system and she considers her work in Mexico to be one of the most important projects of her life. “Having the opportunity to help rescue an endangered species is challenging but also rewarding. We owe it to future generations. We owe it to the planet.”

“The community members are now aware of the importance of conservation, especially children.” she stated. “Even though some adults are still consuming eggs and sea turtle meat, the majority know the meaning of extinction and how lucky they are to live in such a special and beautiful place, so rich in natural resources.”

For more information about the Ayotlcalli Sea Turtle and Conservation centre you can visit their Facebook page here. They post in both Spanish and English.

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Climate refugees: to leave your home or stay and fight?

Climate refugees: to leave your home or stay and fight?

Up to 143 million people may be forced to migrate in the face of extreme climate change by the year 2050, according to an expert in NUI Galway.

Professor Ilan Noy of the University of Wellington’s Economics of Disasters program said that although fleeing may seem the obvious choice, research has shown that people will choose to stay put when they can.

He conducted research with the locals of the 26 km2 Oceania island nation of Tuvalu in the South Pacific, whose highest point above sea level is 3 meters, to find out what climate change and rising sea level truly mean for their community.

“I expected everybody to look for the exit, but no,” said Professor Noy. 

His research reveals that there are two choices, ‘Exit or Voice’ and this nation has chosen to ‘Voice’.

Due to government policy and poverty restrictions, which tend to be exacerbated by climate change itself, potential climate refugees find exiting extremely difficult.

This decision can also be amplified where there is a lack of an established community network in the chosen country of relocation.

Voicing is another option – a way for individuals or governments to instigate policy change that might make it worthwhile to stay longer. 

In the case of Tuvalu, their president is fighting to maintain sovereignty of fishing rights of their 200 km2 marine economic zone, should they be forced to eventually leave.

“I’d like to point out, their president only talked about legal restitution, and never even mentioned relocation,” said Professor Noy. 

More Voice, Less Exit

Using extensive literature and data from the World Bank and UN Department of Economics and Social Affairs, Professor Noy’s team are 

able to show empirically that when the possibility of Exit is less likely, both individuals and government will turn to Voicing.

What’s more, as the community’s exposure to climate change phenomenon increases, the more likely they are to Voice as a means of creating change. 

Noy’s research has proven that communities will not simply lay down under threat or run away if they have another option.

NUI Galway economics researchers participated in thoughtful discussion around what happens if Voicing is no longer an option.

While Exit is the substitution, Professor Noy points out that it has so far not been typical for communities to attempt relocation en masse.

If the policy mitigation benefits of Voicing become washed out and ineffective, or if the impacts of climate change can no longer be adapted to, he agrees that communities will have to start moving in the end. 

When asked if we are prepared for that, he acknowledged that, “no, we are not”.

Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash

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Climate week in Ireland: here’s what happened

This week was a busy one for climate action in Ireland. If you missed all the buzz, read on to find out what happened.

How innovation can help lower the aviation industry’s carbon emission

Greta Thunberg’s recent journey across the Atlantic by ship has brought the environmental shortcomings of aviation to light. How planes can reduce their carbon emissions?

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Amy Donohoe writes about how an educational project in Mexico aims to preserve endangered turtle species.

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Media and Migration : The power of imagery and its perception

Media and Migration : The power of imagery and its perception

Media is a huge part of storytelling today. Is it responsible for the history that is being written for future generations to come?

Migration is a topic that has taken centre stage in the media in the last few years. However, few journalists are trained to cover this issue. These are the recent conclusions of media experts who gathered on 18 March in Paris to discuss on Media and Migration, during a thematic debate organized by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

To make things worse, it is a common knowledge that across all countries , “media have been manipulated by political leaders, too often accepting their outrageous statements,” added Aidan White, Director of the Ethical Journalism Network which has recently published Moving Stories. 

The personal connections between politicians and media houses are known and understood by the journalists and this is taken under consideration when and how they choose to report issues. Three years ago, pictures of a dead child who was a  Syrian refugee and was found on a Turkish beach, were widely circulated and became the highlight of discussions and accumulated criticisms against the media. In contrast, the image of the Mexican refugees (specifically the image of a dead father and his daughter on the banks of a river holding hands)are not given equal prominence in the Western media in comparison.

The entanglement of media and migration expands across all fields, namely political, cultural and even social life. Migration is increasingly digitally tracked and national and international policy-making draws on data on migrant movement, anticipated movement and biometrics to maintain a sense of control over the mobility of humans and things.Social imagery has driven strong emotions and sometimes biased conclusions too.

A team of researchers from the University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), the Budapest Business School and the European Journalism Centre based at Maastricht in the Netherlands, has been working to turn the camera around on news production in Europe. The example cited in their research expands one’s understanding about migration and how it is seen across the world. 

On of their interviewees, a Swedish newspaper reporter, is very positive about the role of journalism: “I enjoy great respect. People listen to what I say and want to hear my opinion.

However some, like this UK newspaper journalist, have a different experience: “Even my own friends hate the fact that I work here and think I’m a disgrace, but I’ve just learned to ignore it and I just get on with my work.”

To see migrants as a strong labour force instead of those fleeing persecution and seeking asylum will definitely change the way integration is dealt with in the western countries. The impact of imagery in the media and its impact on migration and policymakers across the world is to be given utmost importance. Images have a lasting impact and are easily able to garner attention. The question to consider is: are we being fed the images we want to see? Or are we being made to see selected images that may impact our perception of the affairs of the world?

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This week was a busy one for climate action in Ireland. If you missed all the buzz, read on to find out what happened.

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Dublin attracts innovation, but for how long?

Dublin attracts innovation, but for how long?

Dublin continues to make a name for itself as a space for innovation. Within the last three months multiple international companies have announced their plans to open divisions or expand existing offices in Dublin. 

In late May, ‘Deem’ a mobile and cloud software technology provider, with its headquarters in San Francisco put forward their plan to create 50 new jobs by opening a new European Innovation Centre in Dublin, with intent to further expand in 2020. 

The CEO and president of ‘Deem’ John F. Rizzo was quoted to have said he thought Dublin “is the ideal location for our new European Innovation Centre”. In addition, this month US company ‘Toast’, which provides a technological platform for restaurants, announced that it is to open a division in Dublin, creating 120 new jobs

Senior vice president of engineering at ‘Toast’ said, that the city is the right location for their new office because Dublin is a recognised technology hub in Europe. Also this month, Northern Irish company ‘Beyond Business Travel’ also put forward its plans to establish a Dublin branch

Furthermore, many businesses for example LinkedIn, which have established themselves in Dublin also have plans to expand and further solidify their standing.  

Such a wide array of sectors looking to set themselves up in Dublin, from tech, to travel to innovation and food. There seems to be a magnetic pull to Dublin for all areas of business. In 2018 Zalando’s Sean Mullaney, who had previously served as head of innovation for machine learning at Google Dublin spoke on the appeal of Dublin. He said that “Dublin is becoming a tech centre for a lot of EU talent”.

IDA Ireland – working to bring foreign investments in Ireland – has a hand in the interest shown by businesses. There seems only to be more plans of growth and expansions in the works. However, it has become obvious that Dublin is attractive to these companies for another more practical reason. That being Ireland’s exceptionally low corporation tax, which sits at 12.5%. Which makes Ireland’s corporation tax joint lowest in the world with Cyprus.

For context, the average global corporation tax is 23.03%, a recent historical low due to the decreasing rate of worldwide corporation tax since 1980. Ireland’s low corporation tax has faced criticism internally and externally, but the bottomline function of it is to entice more business in the country.

This unique appeal that Ireland has stands to be challenged by new British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. Johnson has stated his intention to cut corporation tax in Britain, in what seems to be an effort to ease the strain of a hard Brexit. Currently, British corporation tax sits at 19%, with it being expected to fall to 17% next year. Unlike Johnson who has not yet mentioned a specific reduction, a cut to 12.5% was suggested by Jeremy Hunt, who was a candidate to become Prime Minister.

It is a strategy of making things worse before they get better, if they eventually do. By cutting corporation tax, the immediate and short term effect will mean less revenue. It’s a calculated risk that hopes that less immediate revenue will translate to more business, more investment, more employment then eventually more revenue. This risk stakes its reward in hope, which a low corporation tax rate doesn’t guarantee. Like in 2008, when Britain lowered the tax but revenue fell. There are other factors that come into play in determining whether a country is attractive to foreign investors. Such as, for example, connections to other countries, EU countries have free trade. It gives foreign investors further incentive as they gain easy access to the large EU market.

As Dublin continues to extend a welcoming hand to foreign investors, in many ways, it seems like it’s main tactic for doing so will soon be co-opted by a very near neighbour.

Photo by Stephen Bergin on Unsplash

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Climate week in Ireland: here’s what happened

This week was a busy one for climate action in Ireland. If you missed all the buzz, read on to find out what happened.

Vox-pop: what do students think of the climate strikes?

Ahead of the global climate strikes on 20th September, students are asked what they think about it and if they’ll get involved.

How innovation can help lower the aviation industry’s carbon emission

Greta Thunberg’s recent journey across the Atlantic by ship has brought the environmental shortcomings of aviation to light. How planes can reduce their carbon emissions?

Tarantino review: violence and violence against women

When Tarantino depicts violence against women, there might be more than an uncomfortable portrayal of women.

STAND Student Podcast Episode 1: Student accommodation and the housing crisis

Podcast Episode 1: Student Accommodation and the Housing Crisis

Did the High Court of Ireland just take away our right to strike?

With the recent Ryanair case, one might wonder why the legal right to strike was seemingly shut down in one case and welcomed in another, identical one.

Remembering Hoden Naleyeh

Remembering Hoden Naleyeh

“How do you defeat terrorism? Don’t be terrorized.” ― Salman Rushdie, Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002

“Social media has changed the game for how people learn about culture. If we don’t become the creators of our own content, we are going to be at the mercy of people telling stories about Africa”. 

Hodan Naleyeh was a Somali-Canadian Journalist, who rose to fame with her uplifting stories about Somalia’s hidden beauty. She died in July in an Al-Shabaab terrorist attack in Kismayo, Somalia.

Nalayeh moved to Somalia from Canada in 2018 and was the founder of Integration TV which told stories of Somalia to inspire those abroad struggling with a lack of identity. She posted videos on YouTube of Somali youth and female entrepreneurs, using the hashtags #SomaliaSuccess and #SomaliPositivity. She also used Twitter to share photos of her travels around the country. Nalayeh hoped this would encourage those in the Diaspora, particularly young Somalis, to move home and help create positive change.  

The attack in the hotel in Kismayo killed over two dozen other people. Nalayeh was pregnant with her third child and was only 43 years old when she died. Her family said she had “spent her life devoted to serving the Somali people and reporting on positive, uplifting stories” in order to “spread light and love to the Somali world”.

She will be remembered by many, including by her social media followers who will hopefully continue her legacy and fight for change. Somali’s government has announced it will award a journalism prize in her honour.  

Somalia hasn’t had an effective national government for over 20 years and much of the country has been a war zone during that time. In 2020, Somalia will hold its first democratic elections since 1969 – something that was previously impossible as the country was too dangerous and divided. Instead, Somalia’s parliament and president were elected using a complex system in which clan elders played an important role. 

When Al-Shabaab attacked the hotel in Kismayo, clan elders and regional politicians were inside discussing an upcoming regional election. 

Al-Shabaab is a jihadist fundamentalist group based in East Africa and allied to Al-Qaeda. It has lost control of most towns and cities but still dominates in rural Somalia. It has been responsible for several terrorist attacks in Somalia and was blamed for the killing of at least 500 people in a truck bombing in the capital, Mogadishu, in 2017 (although it did not claim responsibility for that attack). 

Globally, terrorism is on the decrease however. In Western Europe and the US, total terrorist attacks have decreased significantly since the 1970s. This can seem surprising given the extensive media coverage of high profile attacks like those in Paris in 2015 and Nice in 2016. However, this highlights a bias in the Western media in terms of which terrorist attacks receive media attention. 

According to the START Global Terrorism Database, the overwhelming majority of terrorist victims are Muslims. For instance, in Somalia, where the population is 98.9% Muslim, terrorists carried out over 359 attacks in 2016. Other terrorism hotspots include the DRC, South Sudan and Turkey. 

Terrorism snuffs out many promising lives – and creates a climate of fear. But communities around the world continue to demonstrate their resilience in response to these attacks. By going about their everyday lives, they counter terrorism in schools, markets and places of worship. 

Today, 21 August, is the International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism. This year’s theme focuses on the resilience of victims and their families – how they have transformed their experiences to aid recovery and healing, and how they have become stronger and more united in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. 

On this day, we can remember inspiring figures like Hodan Naleyeh and this will ensure her legacy of hope continues. 

As Nalayeh herself said, “If I pass away, I want people to remember my YouTube channel and Google the videos that brought them joy about the country where all we’ve known was war … the culture here is really beautiful,”. 

Photo via WikiCommons.

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox.

Climate week in Ireland: here’s what happened

This week was a busy one for climate action in Ireland. If you missed all the buzz, read on to find out what happened.

Vox-pop: what do students think of the climate strikes?

Ahead of the global climate strikes on 20th September, students are asked what they think about it and if they’ll get involved.

How innovation can help lower the aviation industry’s carbon emission

Greta Thunberg’s recent journey across the Atlantic by ship has brought the environmental shortcomings of aviation to light. How planes can reduce their carbon emissions?

Tarantino review: violence and violence against women

When Tarantino depicts violence against women, there might be more than an uncomfortable portrayal of women.

STAND Student Podcast Episode 1: Student accommodation and the housing crisis

Podcast Episode 1: Student Accommodation and the Housing Crisis

Did the High Court of Ireland just take away our right to strike?

With the recent Ryanair case, one might wonder why the legal right to strike was seemingly shut down in one case and welcomed in another, identical one.