It has been announced that NUI Galway will receive some €313,000 to support students' mental health and wellbeing for the upcoming academic year
The funding which is a part of a financial package of €5 million that was announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris on Monday, will be used to recruit additional student counsellors and assistant psychologists, implement the Framework for Consent in Higher Education Institutions and the soon to be published National Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Framework.
It is an increase of €3 million from the original allotment of €2 million for student mental health and wellbeing allocated to higher education for 2020
Welcoming the allocation vice-president and welfare officer of NUI Galway's Students' Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, said while the funding is important to provide much needed counselling resources at the university, the students' union will be hoping for the same investment for future years and not just as a response to the pandemic.
She said; "We are delighted to receive the funding for mental health supports. Surveys have shown while students were not the worst affected physically during the pandemic, they were and are one of the worst affected [demographics] financially and mentally.
"This funding will be of huge benefit to NUI Galway because counselling services [at the university] pre-Covid were in dire need for funding. But while it is a start and it is great to have it, we need core funding every year to provide the necessary counselling services to all students."
The university's allocation was third biggest in the State behind TU Dublin (€590,000 ) and UCD (€356,000 ) with GMIT receiving €164,000.
Commenting on the funding, Minister Harris said the top health issue facing young people in Ireland were concerns around mental health.
He said; ""The number one health issue for young people in Ireland today is concerns or worries around their mental health. These concerns have been compounded by the isolation and uncertainly brought forward by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"For students, the college experience has been different this year from ever before. Students have had to adjust to remote learning and carried out without face to face support from their college or their peers.
"For these reasons, I have sought to support student counselling services, key mental health interventions and the provision of a safe, respectful, supportive and positive environment in our higher education institutions. This will help us support students as they return to college in this Covid-19 world."