Déan Athrú - Making a Change
Following a very successful 2016 for the project, we are pleased to announce that Déan Athrú will become a nationwide project platform in 2017!
Déan Athrú was selected as one of the 10 best medical student run projects worldwide in 2016 by the IFMSA and subsequently was awarded 1st Place in the Rex Crossley Awards in Budva, Montenegro.
BACKGROUND - What is Déan Athrú?
NUIG’s inaugural Medical Charities Day or ‘NUIG MedDay’ was held on September 23rd 2015. Organised by NUIG Medical Students, it took a similar course to "MedDay", held in Dublin for many years by TCD and UCD, a day where medical students traditionally have gone out into the community with charity buckets, busking, performing and carrying out services such as blood pressure clinics, in order to raise funds for local and national charities.
After the fanfare had died down, the organising committee met to discuss whether NUIG's MedDay had fulfilled its desired impact. After much discussion, a new project was born, something which would have a sense of continuity in its purpose, something which could change attitudes and be a positive force of change as well as raising vital funds.
We went about setting up an SSM - A Special Study Module, to ensure that the project would have a legacy for many years involving NUIG Medical students. We called the SSM "Déan Athrú - Making a change in the West". Students can receive academic credits through this module for work on such causes like Déan Athrú. Work began in early January, with the course of the project mapped out. Each year, Déan Athrú would have a different focus - 2016 would be Mental Health...specifically aiming to reduce stigma, awareness and education, as well as getting the Public and students in schools and colleges as involved as possible through workshops, talks and activities.
2016's Focus on Mental Health
The aims of Déan Athrú 2016 are summarised below:
- 1. Raise public awareness of the prevalence of mental health issues.
- 2. Raise awareness of the services available to those suffering with mental health issues.
- 3. Create an atmosphere where seeking treatment for mental health is similar to seeking treatment for a medical Issue.
- 4. Educating those in different levels of education (primary, secondary, college) about mental health – not a didactic lecture, but rather a tool to test the current atmosphere on the ground around the issue.
- 5. Implementing a mental health policy in all schools in the catchment area of our project.
- 6. Advocate for local services to be able to operate at their optimum levels and to ensure that they have funding and resources available to them to ensure that this is possible.
We hope that our enthusiasm for Mental Health in the West is shared by you, and that you will get involved in our Action Week in September. Event details to follow.
DÉAN ATHRÚ ACTION WEEK
The schedule for the week was as follows:
Throughout the week:
- Petition signing "We urge the Government and HSE to introduce an Early Intervention Service for children and young adults in the Sligo/Leitrim Region." This will be presented at a later date to Minister for Health Simon Harris and Junior Minister for Mental Health Helen McEntee.
- School visits promoting positive mental health with a focus on the 6 key principles of our project which aim to reduce barriers that prevent young people from accessing mental health services. The title of the talk is "If you can't stop the waves, learn how to surf. Overcoming the challenges that life may present for you and your Mental Health."
Monday September 26th: Talk in conjunction with Sligo IT Students' Union entitled "Resilience, Sport and Your Mental Health" - speakers including sportspeople, those involved in mental health awareness and from the field of Medicine.
Wednesday September 28th: Fundraising day in Sligo in aid of the Sligo Leitrim Youth Mental Health Initiative. Blood Pressure Clinics, sponsored lunches, busking and collections at the Sligo Student Race Day. Funds raised contributed to funding of the "Sligo-Leitrim Youth Mental Health Directory" and DBT training for healthcare professionals in the region.
Thursday September 29th: Fundraising day in Galway in aid of Jigsaw Galway. Similar to the fundraising day in Sligo, students again undertook Blood Pressure Clinics, busking sessions, Irish dancing and on street collections in aid of a fantastic charity carrying out vital work all over Galway.
Saturday October 1st: A successful World Record attempt at Sligo IT running track "The Marathon for Mental Health"...we achieved the fastest relay marathon with 50 people completing 420.5 x 100m segments continuously in 2 hours and 45 seconds. The baton which was passed between each runner contained a petition which we had been distributing around the northwest demanding that a Mental Health Early Intervention Service for young adults to be established in the region - gaining 1500 signatures during the Action Week.