Cross Party Oireachtas Group on Mental Health Explores Trinity’s Unilink Service as Model for Best Practice

Posted on: 29 November 2011

Representatives from Trinity College Dublin’s Unilink Service recently met with the Cross Party Oireachtas Group on Mental Health to explore the Unilink Service as a model of best practice for supporting students experiencing mental health difficulties within third level education.  Trinity’s Unilink service provides practical support to enable students with mental health difficulties, physical and sensory disabilities and chronic health issues to better manage the academic and social aspects of their college life.

At the meeting Head of Occupational Therapy, Dr Clodagh Nolan, Director of the College Disability Service, Declan Treanor, and Occupational Therapist for the Unilink service, Kieran Lewis, met with the Oireachtas Group comprising of Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD, Simon Harris TD, Dara Calleary TD, Maureen O’Sullivan TD, Senator Susan O’Keeffe, Natalie Buhl and Diarmuid Hanifin of Amnesty International.  Discussions focused on service usage, retention levels in students attending the service and the trends encountered within the service.  The philosophy and values within the Unilink service were shared and connected to the national and international policies on mental health.  Outreach services connected to Unilink were also explored and future potential for developments on a national scale were outlined to the committee.

The purpose of the Cross Party Oireachtas Group is to promote political activity, awareness and understanding of mental health issues within the Oireachtas and to support reform mental health services whilst protecting the rights of people with mental health problems.  The committee thanked the Unilink and Disability staff for their contribution and complemented the model of practice developed within Trinity College Dublin as a futuristic model of best practice.

Established in 2003 in response to a growing number of students accessing university with mental health difficulties, the Unilink Service is currently the only service of its kind in Ireland.  Unilink aims to help students make ‘university links’ and is a collaborative initiative between the Discipline of Occupational Therapy and the Disability Service.  It offers a safe environment where students can explore their difficulties and begin to understand how their condition impacts upon their student lives and the activities they engage in.