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2015 Press Releases

Mental health experiences shared in new book

10 Sep 2015
L-R: UCC Suicide Awareness & Mental Health (SÁMH) Society members with Katie Quinlan UCCSU Welfare Officer, Dr Michael Byrne, UCC Director of Student Health & Wellbeing, AIT student and creator of the “My Mental Health Matters” project Fiona O’Donnell, Emily Lynch, UCC Health Matters Team, Cian Power, USI Vice President for the Southern Region, JP Quinn, Head of the UCC Visitors’ Centre, Sylvia Curran, Staff Welfare & Development Advisor, Elma Walsh of the Donal Walsh #Livelife Foundation, Tom McCarthy, UCC Media & PR Officer and Dave Carey, UCC Health Promotion Project Worker (Photo by Clare Keogh)

A powerful and inspiring collection of short stories written by UCC students and staff has been released, proving that even the darkest times can be overcome. 

Elma Walsh, mother of the late Donal Walsh who during his battle with cancer set up the #Livelife Foundation to promote his anti-suicide message, has written the foreword for My Mental Health Matters”, which aims to destigmatise mental health issues.

The launch of “My Mental Health Matters” coincides with World Suicide Prevention Day 2015, offering raw, honest and brave accounts of vulnerability intended to help others. The stories, some of which are written anonymously, represent contributors from all over Ireland and abroad. The array of backgrounds highlights not only how common these issues are, but also how unifying these real life stories can be for all who read them.

Athlone Institute of Technology student Fiona O’Donnell is the mind behind the powerful project. She started it while on placement with UCC Health Matters, a student and staff initiative which strives to improve the health and wellbeing of the UCC community. UCC Health Matters recently led a successful application by UCC to be officially named a ‘Health Promoting University’.

Fiona collected stories from many people across the university. These honest snapshots, at times dark but ultimately uplifting, showcase difficult times which the contributors survived.

Fiona comments: 

“UCC are trying to make it more acceptable for students to be able to talk about their mental health issues by showing that it is not something which defines someone, but rather only a small part of them - how people are all still getting on with our lives, especially college.”

Elma comments: 

“We are continuing the message that Donal left, to appreciate life and to live it to the full. By supporting UCC Health Matters and the new book, we feel the message will get to a wide and young audience where it is necessary.”

The project was supported by many groups within UCC and beyond, including UCC Students’ Union, UCC Health Matters and the Donal Walsh #Livelife Foundation, who largely sponsored the printing and distribution of the booklet so it could have a significant and meaningful impact.

An engaging way of challenging people’s views on mental health issues, “My Mental Health Matters” is available to download and share freely here.

Join the conversation by tweeting us on @UCCHealthMatter and @UCC

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