University is a dynamic and varied period in everyone’s life. Many people who are starting college are leaving home for the first time and must face all the big changes that go with that. There is increased responsibility, added independence and freedom and pressure to handle situations alone. One begins all manner of new relationships (friendly, professional or otherwise) while all the while undergoing immense personal growth and change. With all of this can come considerable emotional, personal and mental strain. Even for mature students, or those returning to education, university can be a personally turbulent time and it is important that student mental health and wellbeing are looked after to ensure that no one endures these issues alone.

Bullying and Harassment

NUI Galway does not tolerate bullying or harassment and is committed to providing a welcoming, professional and safe environment in which work and study can be carried out among all students and staff.  If you feel like you are being bullied by a member of staff in your school or college, it is of the utmost importance that the issue is brought to the head of the school or college.

If you feel like you are being bullied or harassed by another student, approaching the situation informally may be the right course of action. Letting friends and family know, and being advised by them on how you should approach the situation, is important. If you think approaching the person that you feel is bullying you and letting them know the effect that their actions are having on you could suffice, then that is highly recommended. It is suggested that you bring a third party with you if you feel that having support in the conversation would be of benefit to you.

If you don’t feel like the informal approach could suffice, and that the case of bullying or harassment that is being endured is more serious than that, then NUI Galway’s Anti-Policy states that the formal procedure is the right course of action. At this point, if a student is the alleged perpetrator of the bullying, then the complaint should be addressed to the Secretary for Academic Affairs who will forward the complaint to the University Disciplinary Committee for investigation under the existing Student Disciplinary Procedure. If a member of staff is the alleged perpetrator, the complaint should be addressed to the Director of Human Resources who will deal with the complaint under the Staff Disciplinary Procedure.

The NUI Galway Student Counselling Service, student mentors, volunteers with Seas Suas and the Chaplaincy are also readily available to students who feel that they would benefit from talking about the effects of bullying on their wellbeing.

Please Talk – National Mental Health Campaign encouraging and empowering students and staff to speak openly about mental health.

  • Email:

Drugs and Alcohol

In University it can often seem as if there is an immense pressure to drink excessively and experiment with drugs. While that temptation is natural, and trying new things is part and parcel of this stage of life, it is fundamental that you be aware of your own safety and only ever do something because you want to do it and never due to external pressure.

At the end of the day, almost everyone consumes drugs in one way or another, be that alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, cannabis, ecstasy, aspirin or anti-biotics to name but a few. There is little we can do to avoid them and it would naïve and ignorant to deny that their use is not going to be stopped by a warning or a threat. Ultimately, the choice on what you do has to be left up to you. That decision may be to avoid all of them entirely or to be more flexible with that decision. The most important thing is to be aware, to have an educated knowledge about what you do to your body and to your mind and, once again, to never let someone else make a decision for you.

NUI Galway SU page on Drugs -

I am concerned that my social life/ability to make friends will be affected by the fact that I have no desire to drink or take drugs.

There is a myriad of ways in which your social life can flourish and thrive without the need to alcohol or drugs. You should never feel under pressure to do something that you don’t want to do for the sake of making friends. NUI Galway’s Sports Clubs and over 100 societies provide countless activities each week, both within campus and outside, which cater to all manner of hobbies, interests and activities. Societies, Clubs and Volunteering provide ways to meet new people with similar interests without a drink in sight!

I am worried about a friend’s alcohol/drug consumption. I fear it may be reaching the point of addiction or dependence and it is affecting friendships and his/her studies.

It is important to try and communicate with your friend sooner rather than later. Their increased alcohol or drug consumption may be as a result of personal issues that they need to talk about. Approaching your friend in a non-judgemental, concerned way is fundamental. Conversation is so much more effective than confrontation, and trying to convey your concern for them without appearing to “attack” them will hopefully lead to a positive response. If you are not sure how to go about this, then NUI Galway’s Student Counselling Service and Chaplaincy are fully available to discuss the matter with you in a conversational, understanding way.

I fear that I might be developing a dependence on alcohol/drugs and am concerned that if I continue without acting then my studies/relationships will be affected.

The fact that you have recognised this problem in yourself is a positive sign. It shows that you want to address the situation and that you want to change. This is half the battle. Let a close friend(s) know what is going on with you so that they can be aware of it and therefore be ready to help and encourage you when it is needed. NUI Galway’s Student Counselling Service and Chaplaincy are fully available to discuss the matter with you in an understanding way. AA is also an excellent service for those with an alcohol dependency who are looking to receive support from others in a similar situation to yourself. Remember that there is never any shame in admitting there is an issue, and the fact that you want to address the situation shows determination already.

What is the confidentiality policy for drug & alcohol abuse, if I speak with the Student Counselling Service?

NUI Galway’s Student Counselling Service works in a non-judgemental way to help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself or to discuss issues relating to a friend. They will not inform anyone of any illegal activity they hear about in counselling, unless there is a clear and immediate risk to someone’s life.

Other useful links include:

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)      

01 8420700

Al-Anon and Alateen

Al-Anon offers understanding and support for families and friends of problem drinkers in a group setting. Alateen is part of the Al-Anon fellowship and is for young people, aged 12-17 inclusive, who are affected by a problem drinker.

01 8732699 

Alcohol Counselling and Advisory Service HSE

Provides outpatient, aftercare, counselling and advisory services, including alcohol and gambling addictions.

091 737268

Drugs/HIV Helpline

Offering non-directive support, information, guidance and referral to anyone with a question or concern related to substance use, HIV and sexual health

1800 459 459

Faith Issues

If you find that your practice of your religion or sense of faith has been affected since coming to college, and if you feel that this is affecting your mental wellbeing, then be aware that there are a number of services that operate within NUI Galway that will cater to those from many diverse religious backgrounds.

Personal Identity

University is a time when you will hopefully become more aware of who you are as a person. You may realise aspects of yourself for the first time. This may be coupled with insecurities and fear of expression. At NUI Galway the goal is to ensure that each and every student can feel comfortable with who they and what they are aspiring to.

I’m struggling to come to terms with my sexuality, where can I find support?

Some people are certain of their sexuality from a very young age; for others it can happen much later in life. NUI Galway encourages all of its students to be 100% comfortable with their sexuality and to never feel a need to camouflage who they are. NUI Galway’s GiG Soc (Gay in Galway) is the LGBTQA society within the college and aims to provide a forum for all university students and staff interested in taking part in LGBTQA education campaigns and social events. The society serves as a welcoming, friendly, open environment for those who are learning to embrace their sexuality or who feel a need to talk to people in a similar situation to them. If you are finding it difficult to talk about your feelings on the matter, then the Student Counselling Service is also available.

If you ever feel that a member of your school or college is discriminating against you based on your sexuality, then it is crucial that you bring the issue up with head of the school or course co-ordinator.

I am feeling generally low in confidence about myself and it is affecting the way I interact with others in everyday life.

The truth is that everyone goes through periods of low self-esteem throughout their lives. It is natural and is nothing to be ashamed of. It is easy to be hard on oneself. This has become increasingly prevalent in the age of social media, where we are constantly bombarded with information about other people’s lives. It’s easy to feel left out, or that we are missing out. An idea that might help is that on social media we only see other people’s “highlights reel”, whereas in ourselves we see the whole show, including the scenes we would rather have deleted! If you are feeling low about yourself, then try to get active in some way, be that through a Society, Sports Club, gym, or general increased social activity. Remaining active and motivated is a sure-fire way to improve self-esteem and to develop yourself in ways you may have never considered.

I feel socially anxious and struggle to speak to people

When one is starting university especially, it can be hard to break into groups of people or to even speak to strangers. This is not uncommon and you should be aware that you will certainly not be the only one going through this. NUI Galway offers the Participate programme to those who are struggling with social anxiety. Participate is an anonymous and free online programme for helping in overcoming shyness and social anxiety.

Physical Wellbeing

Our physical wellbeing can have a very significant effect on our mental wellbeing, and therefore our capacity to study, work and socialise successfully. Striking the balance between keeping our bodies as efficient and healthy as we can, while maintaining comfort within our own skin, is important. If you have concerns about your physical wellbeing, then there are a variety of means and services at your disposal in NUI Galway.

Where can I go if I feel like I am falling ill or that my body is weakening?

NUI Galway takes any concerns you have for your physical health or wellbeing seriously and understand that such concerns could have an affect on your capacity to study. If you have any such concerns you should visit NUI Galway’s Student Health Unit: for details of accessing this service, see

I am worried about my eating habits, what can I do to help myself?

Research shows that 90% of men and women are concerned with their body size and diet or exercise in an attempt to redefine their natural body shape. You can find more information about eating disorders and healthy happy eating on the "Well Connected" web pages.

I am worried because I (or a friend) have started to self-harm.  I don’t fully understand the reasons behind it, but I am worried that it will escalate.

Self-harm is a serious concern and having an understanding of it and the reasons it occurs is important in overcoming it. It takes various shapes, from cutting and burning, to over-consumption of alcohol or drugs. People who self-harm often do so as a means of dealing with other difficult emotions. Self-harm can be used as a coping strategy that, in the short term, may help you manage your emotional distress. You may self-harm to try and feel as if you have more control over your emotions, but you may self-harm because of self-hate, or because you want to punish yourself. Whatever your reason, self-harm is not the best way of coping with your difficulties, so please use the resources available both in NUI Galway and in the city as a way of overcoming it. Self-harm only provides temporary relief and does not deal with your underlying issues.

For more information on self-harm, please visit NUI Galway’s Well Connected page on the subject.

I’m finding it almost impossible to get enough sleep and it’s affecting my studies and social life. What should I do?

It’s not uncommon to suffer from brief bouts of insomnia or periods of time where falling asleep is difficult. In fact, between 10 and 20% of people will be enduring a similar problem at any given time. When trying to solve this issue, it is important that you try and establish the root of the reasons why you may not be able to sleep. Perhaps there are many concerns, worries or anxieties in your head keeping you from relaxing that may need to be addressed or discussed with another person. Insomnia or a lack of sleep is a genuine concern that can impede on your ability to study or even hold a conversation down! It should therefore be approached as such.  Find about more about sleep and ways of getting enough of it through the Well Connected page on sleep.

You may also want to try some of the following:

  • Ensure your room isn’t too hot or cold
  • Don’t go to bed hungry
  • Reduce light levels of your room 2 hours before sleep
  • Decrease our caffeine and alcohol intake before sleep
  • Keep sleep to limits; don’t oversleep
  • Try reading a book instead of messing around on your laptop or phone before sleep
  • While it is easier said than done, try to consciously sop yourself worrying at night. Try writing down your worries that keep you up, and deal with them in the morning.

If your sleep problems persist, you can contact the Student Health Unit


Depression is a subject that NUI Galway strives to discuss openly and approach in such a way that facilitates conversation, understanding, support and aid for anyone who suffers from it or has a friend or family member who does. Depression is different from feeling down or sad. A person suffering from depression will experience intense emotions of anxiety, hopelessness, negativity and helplessness, and the feelings stay with them instead of going away. You can find more information about depression on our "Well Connected" page on the subject.

I am struggling to overcome my feelings of depression and don’t know what to do

Overcoming depression can at times feel impossible. However, this is not the case and at NUI Galway the aim is to ensure that anyone with these feelings can confront them in an open and honest way in the hope that they will be overcome. While it may seem like a perpetually uphill struggle, there are always going to be people who are willing to talk about those feelings with you and who will do everything in their power to help you get through it. It could be of great benefit to you to contact the Student Health Unit, Student Counselling Service, Chaplaincy or one of the other services available in Galway city.