Following the revelation that Mental Health Week had been postponed by UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU), the College Tribune has followed up on a point made in the Open Letter issued to students by UCDSU President Katie Ascough, in advance of her impeachment referendum.
The Open Letter stated: “Concerning mental health I took part in a focus group to review UCD’s mental health supports, met with Niteline President about restarting their late-night freephone service, and have supported other initiatives on looking after mental health.”
The Tribune followed up with Ascough and Niteline to gather more information about these claims. When asked about the focus group, Ascough stated it “took place at the beginning of the summer before I was officially in office and it was a general discussion on the mental health and wellbeing supports in UCD.”
Ascough confirmed the meeting with Niteline took place on Tuesday, the 4th of July 2017. Aisling Curtis, Niteline Coordinator, confirmed she met with both Ascough and Eoghan Mac Domhnaill, UCDSU Welfare Officer, during the summer. Curtis said they had a “very positive and pleasant discussion, and both were obviously passionate about mental health and student support.” Curtis noted that “due to the sensitive nature of any discussions around affiliation,” she was unable to “confirm anything regarding the service returning to UCD” at the moment.
Niteline is a student-run listening and support service for college students. UCD stopped paying its association fee in 2014. A UCDSU Executive Meeting on the 28th of August 2014 unanimously voted against renewing its partnership with the service, thus ending Niteline’s official relationship with UCD and UCDSU. Maeve De Say, then UCDSU Welfare Officer, told the Executive that Niteline had failed to attend two arranges meetings between the sides. It was decided the money required to pay the association fee would be better put to use on other welfare projects, as the Union had just produced stickers promoting similar services. Niteline stickers can still occasionally be found around the Newman Building today.
Cian Carton – Editor