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Reimagining Mental Health

Reimagining Mental Health

11 October 2021

I am very pleased to open this session, and to welcome you all. I would like to give a particular welcome to Mary Harney, Chancellor of the University of Limerick, who will address us shortly.

These are unprecedented times for our students as they return to campus following 18 months of the Covid-19 pandemic. The various lockdowns and restrictions have left many students feeling anxious and distressed, and returning to on-campus teaching is challenging for some. The UCD Counselling Service and the UCD Students’ Union have risen to the occasion by collaborating to organise this timely and innovative series of educational events. I am very happy to give these events my full support, and to thank everyone involved and commend them for their vision.

I am particularly delighted that this initiative is student-led. I understand that students are to be involved at every level, and that they have chosen the subjects to be discussed. This is very commendable.

The aim is to help students consider their mental health and well-being in creative and novel ways, building their resilience. I am delighted to see that the arts will play an important role - many of our students are very creative, and this is reflected in the diverse programme for the launch this morning. I hope that many of our students will participate, and I ask all of those involved with students and their care to promote these events.

The mental well-being of students is of utmost concern to me and to UCD. We place great importance on caring for students who experience difficulties during their studies. Compassion is a core value in UCD that informs our decision-making. The University will be judged, not only for our academic excellence and research, but also by how we respect and support everyone within our community.

Let me therefore pay tribute to our excellent team of counsellors and medical and nursing professionals, led by Dr Triona Byrne and Dr Eadaoin Lysaght and to commend their vital work. Dr Lysaght has recently taken up the position of Medical Director, and I wish her the very best in that role.

It just remains for me to wish you well, and to express the hope that the reimagining of our mental health services will form part of a larger debate both in the University and indeed in wider society.

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