Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) has launched a new service that will provide mental health support to its students 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including throughout the Christmas period.
The free 24 hour crisis text line is now operational and available to all students and staff of LIT, who can access mental health supports by simply texting LIT to 50808.
The Institute’s Student Counselling Service began expanding its service at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, maintaining contact with students and providing a counselling service even during the summer months when students were on their summer break.
The new 50808 text line service is a further expansion of these supports, ensuring students have access to 24 hour help and assistance should they require it, particularly as they face into Christmas, a time of year which can be difficult for many.
The 50808 text service is part of a PCHEI (Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education) partnership initiative with Spunout and NOSP (National Office for Suicide Prevention) funded by the HSE and is available to all, including staff.
Head of Student Counselling Services Noreen Keane said, “With the impact of Covid-19 on mental health of our students this is a very welcome initiative. It ensures students have support when they are away from college services, be it the weekend or Christmas, or the middle of the night. The AI within the system scans the initial information provided and links the user with a trained volunteer who can guide them towards the required service. This can be everything from a calming chat to support for people going through a mental health crisis.
“Should a student use the 508080 service during the Christmas break, they will be supported immediately wherever they are in the country and then directed back to the student counselling services here at LIT on their return next semester.”
President of LIT Professor Vincent Cunnane said Student Counselling Services and mental health supports are an important part of student services provided at LIT, and particularly this year.
“An increase in funding for student counselling services this semester has allowed us to increase our staffing level in this area. This increase in funding coupled with the hard work and dedication of our counsellors has ensured that all students who needed the service this semester have been seen. The 50808 text service now ensures that our students continue to be supported during holidays and weekends,” he said.
“We are acutely aware the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has on students throughout the country as well as here at LIT. They are being asked to limit social contacts during a period in their lives that should be full of new experiences and new people. They are being asked to learn and study in new ways that can add to the feeling of isolation.
“Student wellbeing was one of the guiding factors when drawing up plans and guidelines for the reopening of LIT’s five campuses in September. Finding ways to allow students to stay connected with their lecturers, the services and to a more limited degree than before, their fellow students was important,” added Professor Cunnane.
Dylan Ryan President of the LIT Students Union is encouraging LIT students to use the 50808 text service at any time of the day or night if they are struggling.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted students across the country significantly and continues to do so. Many feel isolated, stressed, worried about loved ones, all the while missing out on a typical student experience. I would therefore encourage students to avail of the supports available. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and contact LIT student services, the student union or text LIT to 50808,” he advised.