USI statistics show a rise in student Mental Health issues

Shauna Burdis

Image Credit: Shauna Power

In September, the Union of Students Ireland (USI) released the results of the first national student mental health survey, which was carried out through 2018 and 2019. This survey was the first of its kind and looked specifically at the mental health of students across Ireland.

The survey was completed by over 3300 people.

It covered areas that may affect the mental health of students like studying abroad, living arrangements, sexual orientation, employment and disabilities.

According to its key findings, 38.4 per cent of students are experiencing extremely severe levels of anxiety, 29.9 per cent are experiencing depression and 17.3 per cent are feeling stressed.

32.2 per cent of students had a formal diagnosis of a mental health difficulty at some point in their lives.

A fifth of students surveyed, 20.9 per cent, did not have someone to talk to about personal and emotional difficulties.

Non-binary students had the highest levels of extremely severe symptoms at 61.3 per cent.

As part of Budget 2020, the Department of Education and Skills secured €2 million in funding for Student Counselling Services.

The waiting time for a one on one counselling session is not specified, students could be waiting a number of weeks for an appointment. The DCU counselling service assures that any student in urgent need of a counsellor will be placed over the phone to one immediately.

The counselling is run by an independent organisation called Inspire Students, who were hired by DCU to provide on campus and off campus counselling.

Between the Glasnevin and St Patrick’s campuses, there are four full time counsellors, two sessional counsellors and up to five other counsellors working throughout the year.

The Counselling and Personal Development Service provided by DCU is staffed by qualified and experienced counselling psychologists. They provide a confidential, professional and free service which is available to all undergraduate and postgraduate students.

DCU counselling offer a number of services to all students, including one to one psychological and confidential counselling, a mindfulness, well being and stress reduction series with online resources including podcasts, student handbook and video links.

An essential part of the DCU counselling service is a free phone service to talk with a counsellor after hours, including weekends and bank holidays.

In 2018 DCU launched a 24-hour counselling service to help tackle the waiting lists for a one on one counselling session.

International World Mental Health Day 2019 was held on October 10.

Shauna Burdis

Image Credit: Shauna Power