About the policy and proceedures

UCD Student
Mental Health Policy

About the policy and proceedures

Development of UCD Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy and Procedures

The UCD Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy and Procedures was developed by the UCD Student Mental Health Policy Working Group, chaired by Professor Jason Last.

The university environment can be an exciting and invigorating one. However, it can also be stressful and isolating. Good mental health and wellbeing is a valuable support when faced with the kind of difficulties that many students in higher education encounter, such as financial concerns, workload and concurrent deadlines, pressure to perform, the isolation of research, and fluctuating living arrangements.

Many people experience mental health difficulties at some stage in their lives. The onset of mental health difficulties peak in early adulthood: the dominant age profile of university students. 75% of all psychological disorders emerge before the age of 25, and 27% of young people aged 18-24 experience a mental health problem in any 12 month period. A survey of UCD Students undertaken in 2012 by the UCD School of Psychology in partnership with Headstrong – the National Centre for Youth Mental Health, as part of the My World Survey: national study of youth mental health [http://researchrepository.ucd.ie/bitstream/handle/10197/4286/My_World_Survey_2012_Online(4).pdf?sequence=1, found the following.

Amongst UCD students aged 18-25:

·       11 % were in the severe to very severe range for depression

·       12 % were in the severe to very severe range for anxiety

·       8 % were in the severe to very severe range for stress


Although these percentages are lower than amongst students at other Irish higher education institutions, it still represents a considerable proportion of the University community.

Students who experience a mental health difficulty have access to effective support and assistance. The same survey found that, amongst UCD students, those who talked about their problems reported significantly lower levels of depression and anxiety, and most of those who accessed professional help found it helpful. Therefore it is of critical importance that students and staff are aware of the assistance and supports which are available so that these services are sought and accessed by those who would benefit from them.

To support the goal of encouraging the promotion, protection, and restoration of mental health and wellbeing amongst all its students, the University’s UMT Student Experience Group established the UCD Student Mental Health Policy Working Group. It brought together representatives of students, the Student Counselling Service, the Student Health Service, student advisers, the chaplaincy, and the Access and Lifelong Learning Centre, academics with appropriate disciplinary and leadership experience, personnel with legal experience, and management. This Working Group met six times during the 2014-2015 academic session to draft an evidence-based policy which outlines how UCD respects and supports the rights, needs, and privacy of students experiencing mental health difficulties and provides a supportive environment that assists students with mental health difficulties to realise their full academic potential and to fully complete their course.

Prof Jason Last

Director of Education Development and Academic Affairs,

School of Medicine and Chair of the UCD Student Mental Health Policy Working Group”

Chair Prof. Jason Last

Director of Education Development and Academic Affairs, School of Medicine

Nominees from UMT Student Experience Group Prof. Bairbre Redmond

Deputy Registrar and Dean of Undergraduate Studies


Mr Dominic O’Keeffe

Director of Student Services and Facilities

Academic representation with appropriate disciplinary and leadership experience Prof. Alexander Evans

Dean of Agriculture


Prof. Suzy Quinn

Dean of Social Science


Dr Eilis Hennessy

Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology

Nominee from UCD Student Counselling Service Mr Robert Foley

Senior Clinical Psychologist, Registered Psychotherapist

Nominee from UCD Student Health Service


Dr Sandra Tighe

Director of UCD Student Health Service

Nominee from UCD Student Advisors


Ms Aisling O’Grady

Arts Student Advisor


Ms Carl Lusby

International, Medicine and Biomedical Health and Life Sciences Student Advisor

Nominee from UCD Chaplaincy


Revd John McNerney

Chaplain – Quinn School of Business and Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School

Nominee from UCD Students’ Union


Mr Feargal Hynes

President, Students’ Union


Ms Maeve DeSay

Welfare and Equality Officer, Students’ Union

Nominee from UCD Access and Lifelong Learning Ms Fiona Sweeney

Manager, Access Centre

A person with appropriate legal expertise


Ms Caroline Brennan

Solicitor, UCD Legal

Nominee from UCD Registry Ms Karen O’Shea / Dr Karina Daly

Director of Assessment

Co-opted member(s)


Dr Barbara Dooley

Dean of Graduate Studies and Deputy Registrar / Principal Investigator, My World Survey


Prof. Fiona McNicholas

Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry


Dr Martina Ryan

Psychiatrist with UCD Student Health Service

Secretary and Research Support Dr Robbie Roulston

Policy Assistant, UCD Academic Secretariat