Society Spotlight is a series looking at DCU’s myriad societies, who they are and what they do for students. As it is Mental Wellbeing Week, we take a look at a new society that wants to take the stigma of mental health head on.
Despite the reams of scientific evidence and testimonies over the years, there’s still a cultural tendency to shy away from tackling the subject of mental health. Too obtuse, too riddled in false myths, never in categories easily understood, time after time the debate and the idea of mental health has been fraught and inadequate to purpose.
“Our biggest obstacle is the stigma of mental health,” Andrew Wheeler, chair and co-founder of the new Mental Health Society, speaks of what they and other students face. “It’s huge, that feeling of weakness, that both the people who are struggling with mental health issues have of themselves and the feeling that they can’t speak out.”
To get through those barriers, the Mental Health Soc hopes to be open to all students, not just its mentors, and lend an open mind and someone who would always be around to listen. The committee also doubles as mentors who will be peer supporters, people that will be easy to talk to, just grab some tea and chat and let loose.
Though the Mental Health Soc, like other socs, hold events like the typical movie nights featuring movies such as Inside Out, their main objective is the establishment of a mental health hub, a safe place open for any student. This is where the mentors will be mostly situated and where students will be able to go and just hang out, free the mind and freely express one’s feelings.
So far, response to the new society has been “overwhelming” according to Wheeler. “It really shows…that really we are needed here. We’ve got a lot of people coming to us saying that they would have signed up many years ago.”
While their launch has been a success, the society is keeping it modest. No big events beyond a profusion of tea and help, promoting the good vibe of tea and chats. just sustained support over the year, a safe place for students. They hope to overcome people’s inability to talk about these issues and make their life in college more comfortable.
“I wanted to create a community of students that are trying to break down the stigma of mental health issues.” Wheeler says. “That we can be a student body that people can think of as open to mental health issues.”
Listen to Andrew Wheeler here.