Sunday, 25 May 2014

UCD Talks

To mark Mental Health May the PleaseTalk Committee in University College Dublin released a video titled UCD Talks. In it, 9 students, including myself, speak about our experiences with mental health and share our stories. They were all touching and gut-wrenchingly honest. I still cannot watch it through without my eyes welling up.

The video received a tremendous amount of positive attention and reactions. Within a weekend we had hit almost 4,000 views.

As Chairperson of the PleaseTalk Committee in UCD I could not have been prouder, both of the brave students involved and the huge reaching impact of the PleaseTalk message; that 'Talking is a sign of strength'.
It wasn't an easy decision for anyone involved to sit down in front of a camera and speak about their journey, their battle, their struggle, each one unique. Even I found it difficult. When it came to the night before the release I had knots in my stomach. But I believe it is needed to put a face on mental illness. The only way we can end the stigma around mental health is to normalize it. To make it a topic that we are able to bring up without fear of discrimination.
I have never thought of myself as 'brave' for sharing my story. Partly, I think that's because I haven't really experienced a lot of stigma personally. Yes, I lost a few friends over my mental health a couple of years ago. But I've had it easy compared to a lot of the stories I've heard. Making this video was a big step for me. My story, my diagnosis would be public and I couldn't ever take it back. Hence the nerves.

But any nerves, any doubts I had about releasing the video were quickly put at ease with the feedback we received. The messages of support and thanks were overwhelming. In fact, they touched me so much that I decided to collect them. Everything from public comments, to tweets, shares and personal messages. I gathered them and I printed them out. Together with some broader messages about the good work that Please Talk UCD does, they make this collage. It's something that I can keep forever, to look at anytime when I'm feeling down. To see the underlying support for what we as a committee achieved this past year brings me hope; hope that there won't always be a stigma around mental illness.  It serves as a reminder of the power of that simple message; 'Talking is a sign of strength'.

You can watch the video here: UCD Talks

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