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Urgent Need for Greater Third-Level Mental Health Counselling – Gavan

22 June, 2017 - by Paul Gavan

Sinn Féin Seanad Spokesperson for Education Paul Gavan has called on the government to address the chronic lack of mental health counselling available to students at third-level. 

Speaking in the Seanad earlier today, Senator Gavan said:

“There is a crisis in counselling services at third-level. Yesterday, I met with the USI and one representative informed me of a college in Dublin which had only one mental health counsellor, despite a campus of 12,000 students. 

“There is evidence, both empirical and anecdotal, that students are suffering each year from severe periods of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and substance abuse. This is supported by the HSE's vision for change document which states that 75% of all mental health issues first emerge between the ages of 15 and 25. 

“The provision of counselling services by the state has not kept pace with the expansion of third level student numbers, and right now students are typically waiting up to six weeks to be seen. If you personally have a crisis in mental health, you need to be seen sooner than 6 weeks; at that very vulnerable stage in your life, that sort of waiting time could be fatal.

“The psychological counsellors in higher education report has stated that there is a link between their clients mental health and the negative impact their conditions has upon their studies. Students are not being supported by this state and we are all the worse off for it.

“There is a crisis here and I would request that the recently appointed Super Junior Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O'Connor, to come into this chamber to debate the issue.” 

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