How counselling and peer-led services can optimise student success

A new report on the role student counselling and peer-led services have on student success at third level was launched by Provost Linda Doyle today.

 ‘HOW COUNSELLING AND PEER-LED SERVICES CAN OPTIMISE STUDENT SUCCESS: An integrated approach to student mental health and wellbeing in higher education’ offers 35 recommendations and a model to enhance higher education institutions’ (HEIs’) abilities to address student mental health and wellbeing needs within the context of student success.

It is the final report of a practitioner-research partnership between Trinity College Dublin (Lead), UCD and TUS Midlands called 3Set, funded by the HEA Innovation & Transformation Fund from 2019-2022. Its aim was to address the increasing demand for mental health supports in Irish HEIs.

The report highlights the importance of embedding mental health and wellbeing into student success strategies and involving students as partners and co-creators. Internal collaborations and systems which harness the expertise of counselling, disability and health should be encouraged. Research partnerships between academics, researchers and student affairs professionals should be fostered to promote evidence-based practices and quality services. It recommends funding to support ongoing national partnerships, research, training, and initiatives across the sector. Crucially, it demonstrates how well-constructed mental health & wellbeing interventions can be truly transformative, and a significant factor in lifelong success for students.

At the 3Set report launch, from left, Prof Gerry Whyte, Ralph Armstrong-Astley, Dr Deirdre Flynn, Provost Linda Doyle, Trinity and Prof Barbara Dooley, UCD, Treasa Fox, TUS Midlands
At the 3Set report launch, from left, Prof Gerry Whyte, Ralph Armstrong-Astley, Dr Deirdre Flynn, Provost Linda Doyle, Trinity and Prof Barbara Dooley, UCD, Treasa Fox, TUS Midlands

It complements the HEA Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Framework, authored by 3Set’s TUS midlands team under the auspices of the Higher Education Authority Connecting for Life Working Group, and the report Student success: Exploring evidence-based academic, emotional, and social supports seminar report authored by 3Set’s UCD team.

3Set project outputs include:

  • National standards for the collection of data in student counselling services (SCSs)
  • The development of a national database for SCSs
  • A Practice Research Network to identify and disseminate trends in student mental health and wellbeing
  • Assisting the HEA to deliver the National Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Framework
  • Specialised suicide assessment and management training (CAMS) for student counselling service staff in all HEI’s
  • A keyword partnership between HEI’s and 24/7 anonymous text support service Text 50808
  • Best practice guidelines for peer-led transition programmes
  • Shared training and mentor session resources for peer-led transition
  • A national consortium for peer-led transition staff and student volunteers.