1 in 5 Irish adults aged 19-25 were experiencing mental health problems in 2013, according to a report by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. The average age of a student fits within this age bracket.
The counselling service here in University of Limerick (UL), “Éist”, is under pressure at the moment due to high demand and being understaffed. Éist is doing its best to accommodate all of the students. The junior councillors that work for the counselling services in UL don’t get paid but are providing services to help students.
There are drop-in hours available from 11-12pm and 2-3pm daily where students get the opportunity to talk to an assistant psychologist. Depending on the situation, students might then be offered between 6 and 8 sessions with a counsellor or psychologist. After this they then might be offered additional therapy sessions for support and finally may be referred to a specialist service. This seems like a good system, but due to an overwhelming amount of students trying to avail of the services, there is a six week waiting list- this could have devastating effects on a student who is in extreme difficulty.
If this situation arises, it is important to know that there are other options, for example: MyMind Limerick. MyMind Centre for Mental Wellbeing is located at 50 O’Connell Street and is a relatively new centre. They have doubled their room capacity from their original location and increased their team and in turn, services to clients. It is open from Monday-Friday from 8am-10pm and Saturday from 9am-7pm. Their vision is that everyone has quick and easy access to affordable mental health services.
It was founded in 2006 as a not-for-profit community based provider of accessible mental health care and now have centres in Dublin, Cork and Limerick, providing a wide range of clients with counselling and psychotherapy services.
MyMind celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016 and had provided 70,000 appointments since 2006.
According to their 2016 Annual Report, their client base in Limerick was 65% female and 35% male which almost mirrors the national scale of people availing of their services, which is 64% female 36% male.
Their annual report also showed that anxiety was the highest reason for people coming into their four centres with 24% in Dublin South, 22% in Dublin North, 28% in Cork and 24% in Limerick. According to Mental Health Ireland, anxiety can be defined as a type of fear usually associated with the thought of a threat or something going wrong in the future, but can also arise from something happening right now.
ReachOut Ireland, the organisation which provides support for young people concerned about mental health issues, reports a significant increase in the numbers of young people seeking information on anxiety in the past year. However, in relation to MyMind, there were only 20% of 15-24 year olds who used the service in 2016. Most people were between the ages of 25-34 (43%). Is this because students aren’t aware of these services?
The good thing about the UL counselling service is that it’s free, but MyMind charges clients based upon their employment status, allowing full time students and those who are unemployed to access their services at reduced rates. Carmen Bryce, Communications Officer, states that: “MyMind offers a discounted rate of €20 for students. We do have many students coming to us, as student counselling services can have a long waiting list. It is important that someone gets the help they need before a problem gets worse.”
Additionally, MyMind has a multidisciplinary, multicultural team that is able to provide services in more than 15 languages, enabling them to serve the migrant population.
The advice that Carmen would offer to someone who is experiencing mental health problems, or if they were concerned about a friend, is to “please know you’re not alone. Talk to someone, share whatever is bothering you, reach out for help if you need it.”