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‘Budget 2018 should focus on improving mental health supports, and not on tax cuts’, Says USI

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is calling on the Government to invest in third-level mental health counselling services by ring-fencing €3m per annum to tackle future mental health crisis on campus. The urgent call comes ahead of World Mental Health Day on October 10th as tax cuts dominate the outcomes of Budget 2018 due to be released tomorrow by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.

USI President Michael Kerrigan said,

‘Budget 2018 should focus on improving mental health supports, and not on tax cuts. Waiting lists for on third-level counselling services are currently seeing students waiting for up to six weeks to see a counsellor. Students are facing depression, anxiety, loneliness, substance misuse, and suicidal behaviour and can’t get the support they need. In light of the considerable demand of college, students are experiencing difficulties with their mental health as colleges budget allocations for counselling services, infrastructure and mental health supports need investment and to be ring-fenced.’

Mr Kerrigan went on to say,

Figures from Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland (PCHEI) 2014-15 report 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. If Budget 2018 contained a small ring-fence of just €3m as an investment into mental health services and counselling services on campus, we would see a small step in preventing the death of students.’

USI is campaigning for the Government to properly fund third-level counselling in Budget 2018, and to ring-fence €3m into these services. The union is also calling for the Government to ring-fence funding of €37.5m annually and to put emphasis on local 24/7 crisis intervention services.

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