On Thursday 2nd May, The annual Student Achievement Awards were held in the Sugar Club in Dublin. The ceremony was hosted by Amy Kelly, and showcased just some of the amazing work being done by students all around the country.

There were two mental health related categories: Welfare Campaign of The Year and Mental Health Activist of The Year. For both categories there were multiple fantastic entries, with the shortlist and winner of each being difficult to choose.

The shortlist for Welfare Campaign of the Year included UCC’s Breakfast Commuter Hub, which provided both food and a space to eat it on campus early in the mornings; ATU Donegal’s SHIFT week, a sexual health campaign run for the first time on campus that saw such popularity that among other successes saw the HPV vaccine team run out of vaccines; and UoG’s Seize the Awkward Men’s Mental Health Campaign, which sought to encourage more men to talk about their mental health.

The winner was UCC’s Breakfast Commuter Hub. As a welfare campaign this addresses multiple issues such as food insecurity, loneliness, and having a place to go on campus, as well as increasing access to student spaces and the Students’ Union. It was innovative and comes in direct response to an identified student need. The organisers show dedication and forward planning in their approach, as well as utilising the tools they had to hand in a new way. The success is demonstrated in the rapid increase in numbers attending the hub in a short timeframe.

The shortlist for the Mental Health Activist of The Year included Elle George from MTU who focused on body positivity in her work, among other areas, Izzy Tiernan from UoG who made great progress in the areas of drug harm reduction on their campus, and Dean Kenny from UoG who worked to open up more conversations with men about their mental health.

The winner was Elle George from MTU. While all the entries in this category were amazing, and the work being done is fantastic, Elle stood out due to the breadth and range of work she has done in the mental health space. She is obviously not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get involved, no matter what needs doing, but she also is clearly the driver behind a lot of the ideas and initiatives. Her enthusiasm for all she does shines through in the numerous examples provided of the work she has done throughout the year, and it’s clear she is and will continue to make a real difference in the mental health space.

A brilliant night was had by all – huge congratulations to all those nominated, those shortlisted, and those who won, and huge kudos to all those who continue to work to make a difference in the lives of students all around the country.