An investigation by the Irish Times revealed that universities in Ireland, including UCD, spent over €5 million on mental health services over the course of the pandemic. The State’s eight universities spent a total of €5.1 million on counselling for students in the 2020/2021 academic year.

University College Dublin (UCD) spent €880,000 on mental health support from last September to this summer. Roughly 1,600 students, 6% of the student population, registered to speak with a counsellor. The average wait time for an appointment was 10 to 14 working days, however, if a student was referred to the service by a GP or a student advisor the wait time was reduced to 2 to 6 working days.

UCDSU President, Ruairí Power, said that the demand for counselling at UCD has “generally increased year on year” and that there was a “clear need to drive up services”. Thankfully, wait time for counselling appointments has reduced due to a new booking system that was implemented last year. 

UCDSU President, Ruairí Power, said that the demand for counselling at UCD has “generally increased year on year”

Trinity College Dublin spent the highest amount of all the universities. The college spent €1.99 million on counselling services, however, other expenses such as staff salaries, travel, equipment, and recruitment are included in the total. 11.4 per cent of TCD students applied to speak to a counsellor last year and the university stated that the “intensity of need in the caseload has significantly increased during this time.”

At Trinity, the average wait time for an initial needs assessment appointment was 9.6 working days while the average wait time for a follow-up counselling appointment was 40 working days.

NUIG spent €537,000 on mental health services and had an average wait time of 4.1 days. Roughly 8% of students in Galway applied to speak to a counsellor. The University of Limerick spent €406,000 on counselling services and its wait time was 9 working days. €704,000 was spent by UCC last year, with 3.6% of students registering for appointments. The university had a wait time of 0 to 14 days and the college said that there had been no waiting list during the academic year. Similarly, Maynooth University had no waiting time for the 4% of students who registered for counselling last year. Their expenditure on mental health services was €264,000.

Dublin City University had an expenditure of €255,000, 10.2% of students availed of the university’s counselling service and had an average wait time of 5 working days. However, the university added that students “at imminent risk” were seen within 24 hours.  The Technical University of Dublin spent just €86.462 on mental health services which were accessed by 4% of students. TUD students experienced a wait time of “less than one week”.

Emma Hanrahan – Deputy News Editor