TCD mental health service use doubles


The number of students seeking help for mental health difficulties at an occupational therapy service for students more than doubled last year.

The Unilink service at Trinity College Dublin was set up in 2003 to help students to cope with college tasks and integrate into college life.

A five year report released today reveals that the service helped 107 students in 2008/2009 compared with 50 students in the previous year.

The majority of students were treated for depression. However there was a sharp increase last year in the number of students with Asperger’s syndrome, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder that sought help last year.

First year students were most likely to use the service most with another peak in student usage in the fourth and final year.

“The transition from secondary education into third level can be difficult for a lot of students. But it can be particularly difficult for those with a mental health problem, as often, not only is this their first time away from home but their first time managing their mental health for themselves, ” Clodagh Nolan, Head of Occupational Therapy at TCD said.

Most students were referred to the service because they were failing to complete their course work, had difficulty in organising and motivating themselves and needed support in managing their anxiety and their condition.

Male students made up the majority of service users and this is due in part to the practical nature of the servic, the report said.

“The focus of this occupational therapy programme is on the ‘here and now’ and on the ‘doing’ to enable students to manage their mental health difficulties and achieve their degree,“ Ms Nolan said.

Through the service students develop skills such as goal setting and timetabling; non-verbal communication skills; study techniques and breaking tasks down through activity analysis.