€120,000 budgeted over two years, despite campaign’s low profile
A REVIEW of the Please Talk awareness campaign is to be undertaken by the Health Service Executive (HSE), following a €60,000 investment for the 2008 year with a further €60,000 committed for 2009. The funding was secured by the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) in order to assist the Please Talk ‘Development Team’, consisting of four UCD students, in expanding the campaign to all third-level institutions.
NOSP Director Geoff Day explained that a review will be taken in an effort to “measure the value” of the campaign and will assess both the funding provided by the HSE and any change in ways that students access counselling services.
Despite budgeting a total €120,000 for the campaign, Mr Day is confident that it will cost the HSE less to run the service in 2009 and in further years. Any funds not used from the 2008 budget will be carried over to 2009. Mr Day added, “we may well hold the money we were going to allocate to [the Development Team] this year and give part of it to them next year”.
Please Talk Development Team member and third year Business and Law student, Barry Colfer acknowledged that Please Talk has been given a budget of €60,000 for the year, but said the four students involved have only recieved €10,000 to date.
Mr Colfer denied that the funding granted by the HSE was excessive, arguing that “we’ve had access to a certain amount of money to cover our expenses and to cover the national launch”. He argued that the Please Talk budget is justifiable, stating that the funds were set to cover wages of the Development Team and office space.
When presented with the details of the HSE funding of Please Talk, Students’ Union (SU) President, Aodhán Ó Deá said that while he believes the “campaign is worth it… I am surprised to see this amount of money going towards it becasue we haven’t really seen the benefits of it in UCD”.
Mr Ó Deá spoke of initial plans for the campaign’s relaunch, however stated that “so far this year we have seen very little for the amount of money they are getting. For the campaign to succeed, we need to have trust in it, we need it to be so transparent”.
The HSE provided the funding to the Please Talk Development Team after they made a presentation in which they detailed the costs of extending the awareness campaign to all third-level institutions across the country. In their proposal, the four students listed among their costs a total Development Team salary of €31,200, travel, phone and other expenses at €4,000 and laptops at €2,000. The total cost of the requests came to over €56,000 and included office space, design and printing of promotional materials and stationary, website maintainence and administration costs.
The Please Talk campaign was originally launched by a UCD Chaplain in 2007, when Mr Colfer was SU Welfare Officer and the initial expansion to other third-level institutions was held during his time as SU President last year. Mr Colfer works on the Please Talk campaign with the 2007/08 SU Education Officer and third year Business & Law student, Ronan Shanahan, the 2007/08 SU Welfare Officer and Masters in Management student, Vivian Rath and second year Computer Science student, Jonathan Blackmore.