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AIT Counselling Service Partners with 24/7 Crisis Text Helpline

The new text-based mental health support is available to all third-level students

Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) has partnered with Text 50808, a free, anonymous 24/7 text service, to provide a new mental health support for third-level students.

The crisis textline, which has been in development since March 2020, 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 shows 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 - maybe as a first step to further support.

“Students who don’t feel comfortable talking about their problems can text “AIT” to 50808,” explained Treasa Fox, 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 across the 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 signpost students to AIT’s student counselling service, where trained psychologists and counsellors provide emergency appointments daily, and during COVID-19 restrictions, provide daily phone in brief consultations with a counsellor.

“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.

Volunteers are supervised and supported by qualified mental health professionals.

Athlone Institute of Technology is a research-led third level institute with an applied, industry-focussed offering, world-class research and development capabilities, and state-of-the-art facilities. Winner of The Sunday Times Institute of the Year 2020 and 2018, AIT is Ireland’s top-ranked institute and is on track to become the country’s next technological university. AIT tops Ireland’s official league table for research and was listed in U-Multirank’s Top 25 Performing Universities in the World for Interdisciplinary Research in 2018 and 2019. For information relating to the institute’s undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, visit www.ait.ie.

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