Growing demand sees psychiatric services extended at university

Growing demand for student psychiatric services will see a clinic provided for five extra weeks a year at Maynooth University.

Up to a dozen of its 11,000-plus students attend each weekly one-day clinic currently provided, where a consultant psychiatrist assesses and treats students referred to the service.

Growing demand saw the service increased from a half-day to one day a week in 2011. However, further demand means the university wants the contracted service to run for five extra weeks in the next academic year.

The exercise to identify and select a psychiatrist to operate the clinic is being managed by the HSE. The service is entirely funded by Maynooth University and students are not charged.

The range of issues the psychiatrist sees among those referred include depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder and psychosis, adjustment and personality disorders.

Other students present with gender dysphoria, some have a history of deliberate self-harm, and the harmful use of alcohol or drugs is another issue seen by the service.

The service is part of a suite of supports that are available to all students of the university,” said a Maynooth spokesperson. “It is provided to support students so they have the best possible opportunity to fully participate and succeed while at university.

As well as working with students themselves, the psychiatrist’s role includes liaising with referring agents or discharge to appropriate aftercare.

Collaboration with counsellors on client management is also required, and other university staff are supported and advised.

The consultant psychiatrist may also liaise with GPs, external psychiatric or other services, and meet parents or significant others of students for psychoeducation or therapeutic purposes with the clients’ permission.

Students are prioritised for consultation based on information provided by the university’s counselling, health or other referral services.

When the psychiatrist is not on campus, he or she is also expected to under-take relevant research which the university might request, and advise it on matters relating to student mental health.

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