College offers peer support for students with mental health issues


A PIONEERING initiative to support first year students with mental health difficulties has been launched at University College Cork.

With €80,000 of funding from the Genio Trust, the mentored peer support initiative at University College Cork, the programme means students have the support of a peer to help them through their first year in college. 

The services is offered to students who may be experiencing difficulties integrating and coping with university life and helps to promote positive mental health awareness on campus. 

According to the programme’s coordinator Diarmuid Ring, this kind of peer-driven project for people with mental health problems is a unique departure in a university. 

“The whole philosophy of peer-led services is that people who have experienced mental health difficulties and who reach certain levels of recovery can avail of training to become a mentor and come back and give to people who are experiencing it themselves.” 

Mr Ring said it was a fundamental part of the programme that the mentor had experienced a mental health difficulty themselves. 

He said the training offered great value to empower people and give them sustainable skills. 

The programme has, to date, trained 14 mentors who will in the coming weeks be matched with first year students. 

“The idea is to identify students and build support systems from day one,” Mr Ring said. 

Meanwhile, a free and confidential information service has been set up for young people in Cork city and county. 

The YMCA youth information services, on, provides information on centres in Cork, Bandon and Cobh. 

The centres provide advice on careers, education, employment rights, leisure, sport, travel and European opportunities.

By Jennifer Hough

This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Thursday, January 27, 2011

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