AIT counselling service partners with free 24/7 crisis text helpline

Athlone IT has partnered with Text 50808, a free and anonymous 24/7 text service, to provide a new mental health support resource for third-level students.

The text service, which has been in development since March of this year, provides everything from a calming chat to immediate support for people going through a mental health or emotional crisis, big or small.

A recent USI report, National Report on Students and Covid-19, showed that almost 27% of students would use a text support service provided by the college, while 26% indicated that they would use a text support service facilitated externally.

Counsellors are hopeful that 50808 will attract these students, who can text anonymously in a way that feels safe for them, perhaps as a first step to further support.

"Students who don't feel comfortable talking about their problems can text anonymously using 'AIT' to 50808," explained Treasa Fox (pictured above), head of student counselling at AIT.

"We are extremely pleased to be able to further support our student body through this partnership with 50808 and engage with them in a mode that feels familiar and comfortable to them."

Text 50808 will return high level, anonymised data at the end of the year on the kinds of concerns facing students at the local institute.

This information will help AIT's student counselling service plan for future services and better support its student body.

The partnership will also enable volunteers to direct students to AIT's student counselling service, where trained psychologists and counsellors provide emergency appointments daily.

During Covid-19 restrictions, phone consultations with a counsellor are provided by the service on a daily basis.

"Text 50808 is available to everyone. While we are encouraging our students to use the AIT keyword, anyone can avail of the text support service by simply texting 'Hello' to 50808.

"You may want to promote this service to family members and friends - it's a really valuable resource for all,” Treasa Fox added.

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