Mental Health and Wellbeing at UCD

Page updated: 18 May 2022

UCD is committed to the creation of a work environment whereby every employee can feel supported no matter what issues they may be facing in life and where mental health and wellbeing is promoted. UCD recognises that life can be demanding and we always strive to support employees’ wellbeing. This is particularly true for the situation that employees now find themselves in as a result of Covid-19.  We may be facing some challenges associated with caring responsibilities, working remotely and being unable to socialise and interact in person with colleagues, friends and family. It is important to remember to take care of your mental health and wellbeing, particularly in a time of uncertainty, stress and isolation.

Mental Health & Wellbeing for Employees Policy

This policy sets out the University’s commitment to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of employees in UCD as part of an overall responsibility to promote a healthy work environment where all aspects of health are championed. It is recognised that many of us will experience challenges to our mental health and wellbeing in our personal and work lives. It is the aim of the University to create a supportive, empathetic and positive environment which contributes to and fosters good mental health and wellbeing for all our colleagues. 

Read the Mental Health & Wellbeing policy now in the UCD Governance Library.

Workplace Wellbeing Day - 29 April 2022

To celebrate workplace wellbeing day, Friday, 29th April 2022, Culture & Engagement are pleased to bring you a special wellbeing experience from our Employee Assistance Service partner,  Spectrum Life. Tune in and watch live throughout the day. We have a range of webinars from morning meditation to nutrition and remote working tips. We hope you relax, learn from the sessions and enjoy workplace wellbeing day!

Read more about the events planned on the Workplace Wellbeing Day webpage. 

Workplace Wellbeing Day

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The outbreak of Covid-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation in March 2020. Ireland, like other nations around the world, has begun to implement measures to limit the spread of this infectious disease and contain the outbreak, including the closure of Schools and Colleges, encouraging workers to work from home and social distancing.

During this time, UCD employees may be facing some challenges associated with caring responsibilities, working remotely and being unable to socialise and interact in person with colleagues, friends and family. Amid all this focus on physical health, it is important to remember to also take care of your mental health and wellbeing, particularly in a time of uncertainty, stress and isolation.

Meet UCD's Mental Health First Aid Peer Support Group, your colleagues are fully trained and available for a chat over Zoom to offer support and information.

START (Suicide Prevention Skills Online) training is an introduction to suicide prevention training and the precursor to safeTALK and ASIST Training. It is not suitable if you have already completed safeTALK or ASIST training. 

START is a Level 2 alertness skills programme. Whilst not as advanced as safeTALK or the two-day intervention skills workshop ASIST, it does, however, provide the opportunity for participants to:

  • Become more comfortable talking about suicide
  • Feel more confident in keeping a person safe in times of distress
  • Be able to support members of the community, friends and co-workers
  • Build personal professional skills
  • Have peace of mind knowing the readiness to help is obtained
  • Gain awareness of the supports and services that are available.

A licence is required by each individual to undertake the Start programme. START training is free. It is imperative that anyone who applies for a licence is committed to completing the programme. START training takes on average 90 minutes to complete. Participants have 60 days to complete training after which the licence expires.

Further information can be found on the HSE website. To register please contact admin@breakingthrough.org

To support your mental wellbeing, you may like to build some of the suggestions below into your new routine:

  • Limit the time spent consuming news and on social media as the constant stream of information on corona virus, which may include incorrect information, might lead to unnecessary anxiety
  • Ensure you update yourself with news from reputable sources such as Health Safety Executive (HSE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO)
  • See also this resource created under the UCD SPARC project on finding credible mental health information online: Believe It or Not
  • Continue to implement healthy eating and sleeping habits to counter the effects of stress – include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet and aim for 7-8 hours’ sleep each night
  • Build time for activities you enjoy such as reading, listening to music, drawing or painting and other creative activities
  • Going for a walk in a green space will benefit your mental wellbeing. However, it is important to avoid crowded spaces and observe social distancing
  • Open a window to let fresh air in - this has a positive impact
  • Continue to connect with family and friends via telephone calls, video calls and voice messages as well as text messages and emails
  • Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include: Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones; Changes in sleep or eating patterns; Difficulty concentrating. Recognise that any of these are normal reactions to stress. If they persist, consider speaking to a health professional
  • Try minduflness and meditation apps such as Headspace or do 10-minute check-ins to assess how you're feeling and where your mind is

Many UCD employees are working remotely for the first time in isolation from co-workers and it is important to maintain a regular schedule. You can also read the new UCD policy on Remote Working during Covid-19 outbreak.

See more information below in relation to remote working and creating your new routine:

  • Structure your day: Get up early, shower and get dressed
  • If you are used to working out or walking before work, try to fit this activity into your new routine
  • Set up daily tasks and be realistic - this way of working can be more trying and tiring. Speak to your line manager if you find it difficult to prioritise
  • Take plenty of breaks
  • Make one room or space an office - the psychological distance between workspace and domestic space is important
  • Have a cup of tea or coffee during team catch ups
  • Try to bring some of the normal aspects of work into remote working by checking in with colleagues via phone or Zoom - not only about work - and scheduling virtual lunch or coffee breaks with friends

Infographic: Working from Home - Extraversion and Introversion (Myers Briggs Company)

  • The World Health Organization compiled all information and resources on Covid-19 on this webpage.
  • The WHO also developed a guide on coping with stress during the outbreak and a guide on helping children cope with stress.
  • The HSE website offers helpful tips on how to ensure your mental health is not affected during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • HSE Health and Wellbeing created a set of five videos on Minding your Wellbeing.
  • UCD supports the See Change Green Ribbon Campaign to end mental health stigma. More information .
  • BBC Article on Recucing Zoom Fatigue.
  • Derek Mowbray's Tips for Strenghtening the Resilience of Remote Workers (Management Advisory Services)

You may find these LinkedIn Learning Videos helpful during this time (available for free):

IBEC Networks have put together five quick webinars from industry experts to help those who are facing challenges various reasons at this time. Please note that name and email address must be entered to view the below recordings.

1. Fighting Covid monotony – 8 minutes

Susannah Morrissey, OM Wellness shares tips to overcome that feeling of Groundhog Day.

View recording

2. Eat right, stay bright – 7 minutes

Explore links between gut and brain health. Advice on simple changes to your diet with Jenny White, Beoga Nutrition.

View recording

3. Big stretch – 21 minutes

Learn simple techniques and stretches to support you at your desk with James Kennedy, Kos Ergonomics.

View recording

4. Improving sleep quality – 14 mins

John Paul Hughes, Zevo Health will reveal some useful tips to enrich your sleep.

View recording

5. And breathe… - 14 minutes

Uncover the power of effective breathing. Susannah Morrissey, OM Wellness will coach you in the art of mindful breathing.

View recording