Share the Load - A Third Level Initiative
For students, college-going years can be a lot of fun, but they can also be a time of stress in their lives. It's important for students, like everyone else, to realise that it's good to talk about our stresses and to know that it's ok to reach out for support if they need it. There's truth in the old saying, "a problem shared is a problem halved" and there are people and organisations who want to listen and support.
Through our Share the Load initiative, 3Ts works with Student Union teams on-campus to highlight the issues of mental health and suicide. Through our eye-catching visual display of back-packs representing the average number of people of college going age who die by suicide annually in Ireland, the initiative aims to inform students of the importance of opening up to friends or family and to highlight the many supports available to them both on-campus and beyond.
Since 2016, 3Ts Share the Load Campaign has travelled to third level campuses all over Ireland with the primary aim of encouraging conversation about mental health & the impact of suicide amongst the college going age group. Through our eye-catching display, we urge students to connect with others when they are feeling low and hope to empower them to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and to encourage help-seeking. This can mean opening up to friends or a trusted individual or accessing one of the many mental health supports available to them. There are great on-campus supports for students in all colleges and we encourage students to take advantage of these and of the many specialist support services both local and national.
Current college students have come through covid with its periods of remote learning, either at school or college level. They've missed out on a lot during this time, socially, developmentally and educationally. For some, the remote learning model suited them but for many, there is a legacy to navigate that has a direct impact on their mental health. And so, access to supports and understanding that it's ok to ask for help is more important than ever.
"Coming back from 2 years isolated, it's very important to put the focus back on mental health, on supports available to people, 'cos we all have mental health."
Student, Waterford IT, January 2022
‘Share the Load’ is a dual invitation. Firstly, for students to be prepared to be open about their own mental health and to share how they're feeling if they struggle. This can be with friends, family, a college counsellor or other trusted college officer. It could be with a helpline or support service. Secondly, we encourage students to be there for someone else who is going through a tough time.
Sadly, Suicide statistics demonstrate that our young people are still the most ‘at risk’ group when it comes to suicide in Ireland. In this context, activities such as this have never been more important.
"I speak from personal experience. It's so much easier once you talk to somebody. It can be a friend, it can be a teacher you trust. There's always someone who's there for you."
Student, Waterford IT, January 2022
3Ts has collaborated on this initiative now with DCU, UCC, TCD, Athlone IT, GMIT, NUI Maynooth, DKIT, Sligo IT, IADT, WIT & DIT (now TU), as well as the Union of Students in Ireland. Each experience is as unique as it is rewarding and beneficial to each college community.
We hope to continue to find new ways to work together to tackle suicide and mental health issues. If you would like to bring Share the Load to your college campus or if you have other ideas that you would like to explore with 3Ts, please email us on email@example.com or phone us on 01-2139905.
“A deep and powerful visual display that touched so many of our on-campus community during our recent annual Health Fair”
Dundalk IT (DKIT), Student Health Unit Nurse, January 2023