Counselling Service receives over 600 enquiries in three week period

Many students have begun availing of mental health services available in College, which has been aided by government funding

The Student Counselling Service has received more than 600 email enquiries in the past three weeks with students looking to avail of services. 

Many students have been availing of the mental health services available in Trinity, as this term continues to be like no other with Level 5 restrictions now in place across the country.

Speaking to Trinity News, Trish Murphy, Acting Director of the Student Counselling Services explained that the service has received more than 600 to 650 email enquiries for the past three weeks.  

Murphy explained that not all of these enquiries translate into one-to-one sessions, but it shows the “increasing concern that students have for their emotional and mental wellbeing”. 

“We are offering on-line, supported cognitive behaviour therapy modules as well as groups and workshops on a variety of topics from academic support to ‘living with covid’, bereavement and addiction support,” Murphy added.  “We also have three long term groups offering students weekly sessions for up to 2 years duration.”

In August, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris announced €5 million for student well-being and mental health, dividing it among higher level institutions across the country. 

That funding has directly transferred into additional funding being available for more counselors at Trinity. Speaking about the funding, Murphy said: “The government has donated money specifically for student counselling services and we are delighted to say that we have new posts being processed at this time as a result of this.”

“The government has singled out sexual consent and the new framework for suicide prevention in 3rd level to be a focus of some of this allocation but all posts will work directly with students.”

In the beginning of October, Harris launched the The National Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Framework, which is the first national framework to address student mental health in the country. The aim of the framework was to effectively “address the gaps” which may exist in suicide prevention in higher education.

In addition to the suicide prevention framework, the “Active Consent Toolkit: Developing a Consent Strategy for your Higher Education Institution”, was launched in September to 22 higher education institutions across the country. The programme, which was also launched by Harris, “offers guidance” to higher education institutions in developing an Action Plan on consent, sexual violence and harassment, as well as addressing consent education through a sustainable and joined up strategy across each campus in the country.

Murphy explained that Trinity has “quickly replaced any of our core posts that have become vacant and are very supportive of keeping our services fully operational” in light of the pandemic.

“We have two counselling rooms in Trinity Hall and are endeavouring to have a counsellor there as much as is possible during term time,” Murphy said.

“Under level 5, we are mostly offering video and tele-counselling  but the counsellors are physically in Trinity Hall at least two days a week in case of emergencies,” Murphy explained.  “We hope with the new posts to cover more days there.”

The Student Counselling Service offers emergency sessions every day, with vulnerable or at risk students advised to contact the service through email.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.