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The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) today released data showing 74% of students fear experiencing negative mental health in the future. USI is also raising concern over the shortage of staff in mental health services to cope with the increasing demand for support, in light of Fianna Fáil claiming the HSE has failed to spend any of an extra €15 million earmarked for boosting staff numbers.

USI President Michael Kerrigan said, “Students are experiencing depression, anxiety, loneliness, substance misuse, and suicidal behaviour, and there is not enough support and staff to help them. It’s well known that almost 75% of all mental disorders first emerge between the ages of 15 and 25, and USI’s research shows the demand and need exists to attend counselling services and other mental health services. The fact that new figures show only 93 extra staff have been hired so far this year is an outrage.

Mr Kerrigan went on to say, “Figures from Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland (PCHEI) 2014-15 report outlines over 50% of students’ studies were negatively impacted by mental health difficulties. This report also shows 27% of students who used counselling services indicated counselling was a factor in their retention, and 23% indicated counselling helped with their academic performance. The HSE is bending under the pressure, and students are dying from the lack of investment and resources in mental health services and counselling services on campus.”

USI is calling on the Government to invest in third-level mental health counselling and ring-fence €3m for student counselling and supports per annum to tackle mental health on campus, and increase the academic experience for all.

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