DCU ends pilot year partnership with Inspire Wellbeing

The trial year ended in September and DCU will not continue to work with Inspire Wellbeing, as it was difficult to control the service costs and funding is limited.

Dublin City University hired the external company from Northern Ireland, for a pilot year to provide 24-hour counselling to students on and off campus.

The 24/7 counselling service was piloted by DCU in collaboration with the organisation, in an attempt to tackle growing waiting lists.

The aim of the programme was to provide students with an opportunity to call a fully trained and qualified counsellor at any hour of the day, and schedule an appointment within three days.

The management of the service was through the Head of Counselling, Helena Ahern.

Speaking about the pilot programme, Ahern said “What was on the phone was a crisis intervention, it wasn’t like having a one to one session on the phone.

I think there was a bit of uncertainty and unclarity about that. It wasn’t on-the-phone counselling. It was used as a matter of emergency.”

According to the Director of Student Support and Development, Claire Bohan, “the funding environment over the last 10 years has just gone from bad to worse.”

“Counselling without any judgement is an extremely expensive service to run.”

DCU worked alongside Inspire Wellbeing, who in turn hired counsellors off campus to tend to the needs of students who were unable to access services between the hours of nine to five.

The pilot programme was launched in attempts to tackle the growing demand for counselling appointments in DCU. It aimed to provide counselling to students on and off campus and would be of special benefit for students on placement, who did not have direct access to the counsellors based in DCU.

“We might have had maybe a three to four-week waiting list for those who weren’t at risk. A student at risk would be seen within 48 hours and then with the direct referral will be seen again within 24 hours.”

“Inspire, who offered a 24/7 telephone line, meant you caught the students at risk. When our overflow started jumping in, we could get students counselled off site and evening and weekend counselling, which again was for students who were on clinical teaching or work placement.”

This year due to limited funding “it’s not going to work and there’s a really good 24/7 line like the Samaritans,” said Bohan.

If students were at extreme risk the service provided them with potential immediate access to a counsellor.

The unique programme was in the making for six months and DCU was the first Irish university to implement it.

Over the phone counsellors are a great help when there is an issue. One to one counselling is perhaps a more beneficial long-term solution for those struggling to cope.

For non-judgmental emotional support, students can contact the Samaritans who provide a 24/7 national helpline provided by a trained team of volunteers.

Information for students on helplines and counselling can be found on the DCU counselling website.

Shauna Burdis 

Image Credit: Jovanovic