The idea was borne out of the University’s desire to take part in the yearlong event, which aims to celebrate Ireland and Irishness by inviting anyone with a connection to the country to come back and attend events that are happening across the country.
UCD along with UCD Students’ Union felt the event was only worth running if it had a strong student focus. UCD Students’ Union President Rachel Breslin explained: “I wanted to host and organize a one off unique event for The Gathering, but I also wanted it to have a real student benefit or else it’s not worthwhile. We thought about and we’re working on the idea of a Mental Health Conference, for student leaders and student activists across the UK and further afield and look at the common mental health problems experienced by students on campus, look at what other colleges are doing to tackle those, and to develop a strategy that we would all have in terms of mental health, and particularly to promote the Please Talk message which started in UCD, and is now growing and growing.
The event is planned to take place in June 2013 as this is when “the campus is quiet and the officers are a lot quieter.” It will be a three-day event with speakers from all over Ireland and the United Kingdom, and more international representatives if resources allow for it. The Steering Group are looking to invite people who are doing research in the area, as well as people who are active in the mental health field. They would like the event to “build a desire among student leaders and get them to put that as a priority for the year ahead.”
UCD’s aim is to attract its alumni back to the campus, as well as inviting anyone else who has an interest to come and visit. Breslin commented that: “There was a meeting of various different parties all over UCD to discuss what UCD could do to be involved in the Gathering 2013, and to try and promote UCD and promote Ireland and to invite our alumni back and show them the campus, as well as inviting others and show them UCD, our physical features, our ethos, the research that is going on.”
The steering group is made up of representatives from a wide variety of areas of the University, including Martin Butler, Vice President for Students; Gary Moss, Commercial Manager; Dominic O’Keefe, Director for Student Services and Facilities; Michael Rafter, Buildings Operations Manager; representatives from the International Office and from the Quinn School of Business; Mark Simpson from UCD Communications; along with Breslin herself. Though no students are currently presently on the committee, Breslin states that this is because the plans are in such early stages and that numerous students will be needed as the project progresses.