Haley Myatt, our Canadian and NUI Galway Ambassador talks to us about her involvement in mental health awareness in Ireland…

Mental illness affects everyone — directly and indirectly. In some parts of the world, we are on top of the conversation and awareness around mental health. In other parts, the education is slowly happening. Back home, the topic of mental health is becoming a large conversation and initiative are popping up around Canada. I stayed as involved as I could throughout it all. When it came to moving to Ireland, I knew I wanted to continue being part of the conversations in Ireland too.

At this point, I didn’t know how difficult it would be to get involved, let alone start an initiative on campus. I didn’t know how much of an impact I could make as an international student either. I wanted to try either way.

Soon after starting classes, I joined the Welfare Crew, an advocacy committee through the  Students’ Union at NUI Galway. In one of our first meetings, we discussed an upcoming mental health week.

I sent an email to the Vice President Welfare after the committee meeting with my idea for a mental health video. Thankfully, my ideas were welcomed by excitement and enthusiasm. Two weeks after that email and we could be found carrying a big, red couch around campus. Sitting on the couch, students shared their perspectives, experiences and thoughts on mental health and illnesses.

Watch the video

The Students’ Union uploaded the video to their Facebook and from there, it started spreading. I quickly realised the doubt that I had in the beginning — that international students can’t make a difference — was ridiculous. We may be away from home but our voices still matter.

Now you don’t have to plan a whole campaign. You don’t have to make a video. That just happens to be the path I took. But we can make a difference here. The opportunities, resources and people are all here to help us make it happen too! Our nationalities don’t define our ability to be advocates.

If you take away anything from this, remember:

  • You are not alone. You are enough. It’s okay not to be okay.
  • Just because you are an international student, doesn’t mean that you can’t make a positive impact on your campus. No matter the size of the action or gesture, you can make a difference. Your voice matters!

Through pictures and videos online, among the jaw-dropping beautiful of the country, Ireland always seemed like a home I’ve never been too. For years, I had dreamed of jumping on a plane and discovering the country.

I quickly learned — through more serious, thorough research — that Ireland is more than just beauty. Ireland is culture, innovation and community. Galway is generosity, diversity and growth. NUI Galway is leadership, ambition and impact. It was impossible for me to say no to an opportunity to pursue what once was just a wild dream. In retrospect, I didn’t choose Ireland… Ireland chose me.

 I adore the little things in life. A warm cup of tea in the morning, finding the perfect lighting for photos, puns, discovering new coffee shops, feeling the tingle in my hand after a loud high five, perfectly roasting a marshmallow over a fire… Though small, the little things we do, say and think every day impact the world around us.

Where’s the connection between the little things in life and being a blogger and Student Ambassador?

As a blogger, this helps me take on new voices in writing, perspectives in video and angles in photography. By recognising the impact of the little things, it’s also easy to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

As an Student Ambassador, this helps me have attention to detail, appreciate the opportunities given to me and respect individuals from all walks of life. I feel such a passion for this country. Ireland not only feels like home but is home for me. I don’t see Ireland as just a destination – I see it as a part of my future.