By Event coordinator : Aoife Henry, Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.), Electrical and Electronics Engineering (2014 – 2018)

“I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment out of sport, and I now wanted to channel that interest for the greater good on a scale bigger than the odd charity run. “ Free The Elephant” began as an attempt to rally the the “Couch-to-5kers” , the “Gym Buffs” and the “Horizontal Runners” of UCD for the great cause of Pieta House. Upon meeting some of the incredible and energetic people running UCD Student Services and Healthy UCD, Free The Elephant began to take on a more concrete message: that mental health in UCD should not be the Elephant in the Room. The more noise we could make about the issue of mental health and the options available to people suffering with them in UCD, the more successful the campaign.

Stage 1 involved translating my abstract ideals into a solid plan, and I couldn’t be more grateful to Mags D’Arcy from UCD Student Services and Brian Mullins from Healthy UCD for facilitating this. Stage 2 was to promote. Thomas Arnold of the UCD Societies and a few elephant masks were invaluable in shooting our promotional photos and videos. We disseminated posters across campus, played our promotion video on every TV screen available to us. Facebook didn’t know what hit it when we began our registration count-down. Sufficient hype generated, Stage 3 was sign-ups. I’m fortunate to have friends that put their names, and the names of 5+ friends down at the drop of a hat. Hughie McGearty of UCD Sport & Fitness was kind enough to arrange bootcamp workouts for all participants also!

The mud-run itself was fantastic fun! We contended with mud, snow and ice, but I was really touched by how teams kept together and supported each other. We finished far filthier than we began, but no one was left in the mud as we shot back to the UCD Clubhouse to refuel.

I am thrilled that “Free the Elephant” was such a revitalising experience and all I want now is for its message to be clear and to propagate through all of my friends, new and old, who participated, and all the people who contributed towards its success.

Please Talk to your friends or UCD Student Services if you have a problem of any extent, and GET THE ELEPHANT OFF YOUR BACK! “

“ Free The Elephant” was a student led and student focused event, with over 65 UCD students raising a total of €1,855 for Pieta House. UCD Student Services encourages any student who may feel “The Elephant” on their back to reach out to their designated programme Student Advisor and to be mindful of the full suite of services available through UCD Student Health & Counselling Centre. Those being;
•    Free one-to-one Counselling for all UCD Students
•    Night-time Confidential Help & Support 1800 793 793
•    Onling Drop-in Mental Health Workshops & Courses

Students’ feedback & experience through UCD’s Counselling Service;

•    Counselling helped me ; “Being able to talk to someone about my problems and being able to get my life back on track again”

•    Counselling helped me ; “Being able to manage my difficulties with my PhD supervisor, dealing with distance of my family and the social and cultural adaptation in Ireland”  

•    81.93% of respondents found counselling helpful.

•    90.12% would recommend counselling to another student

UCD Runamuck March 2018