TCD Unilink Service is launched, supporting Students with Mental Health difficulties

Posted on: 29 September 2006

Trinity College’s  Unilink service – a service which provides practical support to enable students with mental health difficulties, disabilities and chronic health issues to better manage the academic and social aspects of their college life was launched on September, 28 last  by the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science, Ms Síle de Valera TD.  The service is provided by TCD’s discipline of Occupational Therapy and Student Disability Service.

 “This service was established because students with mental health difficulties are a hidden group in College, the difference now is that this group is being reached with the practical support which they need,” stated founder of the service and occupational therapy lecturer, Clodagh Nolan.

Trinity College’s unique service is provided in partnership with the Student Disability Service by occupational therapists whose focus is on the practical management of day-to-day aspects of student life. It provides support with academic tasks such as studying, writing essays, projects, time management skills, attending and participating in lectures and doing exams as well as the social aspects of student life. Easy daily access to the service is available to the students and text messaging is often used as a means of communication. The service is student-centred, meaning that students can access and use the service whenever they need it during their time in College.

In its first year, 22 students were supported with the ratio of female to male being 2:1. Since then the number of students accessing and using the service has doubled with more men than women now using the service. Students using the service have said they feel less isolated and more confident about achieving their long-term goal of getting a degree.

The Unilink service has been expanded on a pilot basis to also provide similar support to students with physical disabilities, sensory impairments and chronic health issues.

The launch was followed by a workshop on the Unilink model for disability officers and student support staff from other third level institutions to enable those who wish to emulate the service.