Importance of Mental health for International Students

“Mental health…is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.” — Noam Shpancer, PhD

The Limerick Mental Health Association held a mental health session at the Milk Market, joined by guest speakers Joy Neville and Ciarán Carey. Mental health has always been a topic swept under the rug and there has been a lot of secrecy around it. We have been taught to keep going with our lives and these are issues and problems should not be given much attention to.

Creating Awareness about Mental Health

Conversations around mental health are extremely important, especially with students coming to study in Ireland from different parts of the world, they leave behind their homes and families. In such situations being heard and having someone to help you understand your emotions and issues is vital. Students are usually put under a lot of pressure from assignments to getting good grades and even balancing finances and their daily activities; in this pursuit often, they forget to check on themselves and take a step back. It can be extremely overwhelming for students to take this huge leap of faith and at the same time take charge of the situation and everything that is going on around them.

Limerick Mental Health Association (LMHA)

The General manager at LMHA Ian Hackett said,“We’ve been looking at ideas to get people back out and socializing after the lockdowns the past two years. A lot of people are now experiencing social anxiety and the best way to tackle this is to make a day where everyone is welcome to come and take part. We’re trying to promote positive mental health which is badly needed these days in the city and county. We’re going to encourage people to get behind us and support the event as much as they can and to get out there and enjoy the day for their own mental health.”

Self-care for Mental Health

Addressing issues and concerns surrounding mental health is often put on the back burner and is not given the same attention as a physical injury. Mental health workshops as such and helpline numbers should be made available to the students by associations and the universities for them to be able to talk and express themselves. They need to be given the space and assurance to be able to talk without any inhibitions or concerns. It has often been observed that students often do not understand the concept of mental health or its effects until it’s very extreme.

With the pandemic and the accompanying isolation, everyone around the globe realized that the pandemic did take a toll on them emotionally, physically and most of all mentally. It became difficult for people to understand what they were feeling. And then expressing these feelings with the family being around was all the more burdensome. It is crucial in such situations that the conversation regarding mental health is had with students from the beginning, often it can lead to individuals going into their shells and becoming closed off to the outside world. This is something that needs to be recognized by the individual, only then the required help can be offered to them.

Self-care is extremely important, understanding your emotions, and feelings and validating them. It begins with small steps of putting yourself and your well-being before anything or anyone else. Self-care is never selfish, taking care of your mental health is as important as taking care of your physical health. 

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Svetlana Rodrigues

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