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24/7 text service to provide mental health supports for third level students

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24/7 text service to provide mental health supports for third level students

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, today launched a new text-based mental health support which will be available to all returning and new third level students.

Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland (PCHEI) has partnered with 50808, a free, anonymous 24/7 text service, to provide the new mental health support service for third level students.

The text service partnership with PCHEI has been in development since March 2020. 

Minister Harris said: “Students are our future leaders, politicians, entrepreneurs and business leaders, teachers, engineers, health staff, chefs, mechanics.  Many of our science students will progress to careers where they develop new vaccines, so that we will have less risk from viruses such as the one we are valiantly trying to stem at present.

“They have endured so much. We now must take care of students’ mental health as we have a duty of care to them.

“This partnership will be vital. It will offer students a lifeline at any hour of the day. It will be free and anonymous.

“Our students need this service more than ever.  I am also delighted that my Department was able to secure €5 million in funding for mental health services in our institutions of higher education, to ensure the ability of HEIs around the country to continue to provide assistance to students in need of help.”

A recent USI report, National Report on Students and COVID-19, shows that almost 27% of students would use a text support service provided by the college, while 26% indicated that they would use a text support service facilitated externally.

Counsellors across the higher education sector are hopeful that 50808 will attract these students, who can text anonymously in a way that feels safe for them - maybe as a first step to further support.

“We’re delighted to partner with 50808 so that our students have the option to engage with support, at the time they may immediately need it, and in a mode that is very comfortable and familiar to young people,” explained Gertie Raftery, chairperson of PCHEI.