Students urged to open up about their mental health

AS students settle into a new academic year at college calls have been made for greater support for young people at university in the North. 
This comes following the second sudden death of a student in the Holyland area of Belfast within a week. 
With many students in Fermanagh looking to Belfast for university opportunities members of the local education sector have spoken out. 
Gary Kelly, principal at St Kevin’s College, Lisnaskea outlined the support on offer to A Level students. He noted that the school offers a pathways programme for students with Queen’s University Belfast whereby students have a residential week over the summer. Pupils also have the opportunity to visit Queen’s and Ulster University with the school. Advice is also provided for student on finances at university. 
Students are further supported by a getting ready for university induction programme and this year the school has launched a university cookery programme for A Level students. 
Adam Gannon, Erne West Councillor and teacher spoke of his time studying at university in Belfast at Queens and St Mary’s University College. 
He remarked that in general, “Pupils are well supported at school’s locally but when they go to uni it’s a different story.
“At some universities there is next to no support to students. When I first went to uni I went to Queen’s and found myself very stressed and suffered from panic attacks at one stage. I went to chat to my ‘personal tutor’ who didn’t even know who I was and got no help. 
“I never went to my GP at the time but probably should have and I’d recommend anyone suffering from any mental health issues do so.
“Part of what makes it difficult is being dropped into a totally new environment far from home and there isn’t enough university accommodation for everyone so the Holyland is the only option for many starting Uni, although many people love living there.”
Cllr Gannon also drew attention to services available to school pupils, including school pastoral care teams, external NHS services and “heavily oversubscribed” counselling services. 

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