New pilot Student Assistance Programme launched by Teagasc

Teagasc has launched a new pilot Student Assistance Programme (SAP) for full-time students in Kildalton Agricultural College.

The programme is being run in conjunction with Vhi Corporate Solutions and will commence from February 1, 2018. The service will be available solely to students.

Teagasc already has an existing Employee Assistance Programme through Vhi Corporate Solutions since the early 2000s.

Available 24/7, this free and confidential service can be accessed by email or by contacting a freephone number.

Each call will be answered by a trained professional, who will ensure that the student is directed to the relevant specialist service, according to Teagasc.

Recognising the issues all students experience, it was decided that an SAP should be put in place to help ensure these issues are resolved as early as possible.

The benefits of early intervention and support for students when they are faced with challenges were recognised by Teagasc in its decision to establish the SAP.

The programme was launched yesterday (Thursday, February 1) in Kildalton Agricultural College, Piltown, Co. Kilkenny.

At the launch, students heard from Dublin All-Ireland winning footballer Philly McMahon on the importance of availing of help and support services.

An outline of the SAP was also given by Sara Kelly from Vhi Corporate Services.

SAP Outline

Students are assured that the nature of their issue and other information regarding their contact with the service is strictly confidential.

The counselling service can provide support on a range of issues, including – but not limited to – stress, relationship issues, anxiety, bereavement support, work pressures, family issues and work life balance.

A specialist information team is also available to provide the student with practical information on a variety of issues; for example, tax queries, financial issues, legal queries, childcare queries and tenancy.

Students also have the choice to speak with a counsellor over the phone or to attend face-to-face counselling sessions. In the event where a student wishes to attend face-to-face counselling sessions, they will not have to travel further than 40km from home or work to attend one.

There is no limit to the number of times a student can call the SAP with a new issue or problem. However, a student is limited to up to six face-to-face sessions for any one issue.

For example, if the exact same issue resurfaces, the student will need to work with the SAP to gain information on how to avail of more appropriate, longer-term resources outside of the programme.

Depending on the outcome of this pilot, it is hoped that this programme will be rolled-out on a national level in the near future.