UCD’s Student Health Centre has launched a new initiative to reduce the waiting lists for its counselling service. The health centre budget this year is providing for external counsellors from an approved list to take on UCD student cases for periods where people are being left on the list for “6 to 8 weeks”.
This service will be free of charge for UCD students, and is designed to act as an overflow for the Health Centre’s service. UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer Mícheál Gallagher says the initiative will begin this week, as waiting lists get particularly long at this time of year. “Waiting lists become a problem around the same time every year… If you’re on the waiting list you’ll be contacted about these and if you do go to them you’ll be refunded whatever expenses that you do incur, to a certain extent of course.”
There is no limit on how many people can take advantage of this scheme; it depends on the waiting list, according to Gallagher. However he does note that there “may be a limit on how many sessions” but that by the time you’ve done sessions with the external counsellor “you’ll be at the top of the list for the Health Centre counselling service.
This scheme comes in addition to the ‘Reach Out clinics’ that Gallagher set up at the beginning of this term. This scheme involves “a counsellor who works for the SU for three hours a week” to who Gallagher can refer students.
He says this counselling service is “for anything. Generally it’s for people who are unsure if they do need to go to a counsellor or not, and they can kind of talk to them in an informal setting, whether it’s about mental health or they want to identify something. I use it generally for emergencies.
The scheme is paid for by the Students’ Union and is a deal with a counsellor who “came highly approved. She was a part employee of the University so she’s very used to working with students.” The scheme will remain in place until such a time as it’s no longer needed, with Gallagher commenting that: “It’ll probably be judged on how much it’s being used, viability, and usefulness of the service.”
Gallagher hopes that between these two initiatives that the counselling service will be in a much stronger position this year, with significantly reduced waiting lists. “I do feel we’ve a very positive outlook… The situation isn’t ideal but it is good that we have some safeguards in place so we can cut down the waiting lists and we can outsource it to an extent, for free still… I think there’ll only be a need for it in the first semester and the waiting lists will go right back down.”