August 13, 2008

 Publication: Irish Independent Special Supplement

Date: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 Page: 3 

Author: Fergus Black

Headline: Samaritans to hit streets as support groups get mobilised

VOLUNTEERS from the Samar- itans will be out on the streets again this year offering their support to Leaving Cert stu- dents on exam results night. And help for students who may be in despair over how poorly they feel they performed will also be at hand at just the touch of a button. Last year when Rehab launched its confidential and free 24-hour text support service, 'Headsup', more than 8,500 text messages were received in its first four months of operation. By May of this year, the service, which is supported by Meteor, had received more than 13,000 texts.

By simply texting the word 'Headsup' to 50424, the service enables users to receive direct to their mobile up to date and accurate contact numbers for organisations that can provide practical advice on their problems. Health Once a text is received by the service, the user is sent a list of topics they might like help with. There are 12 options to choose from crisis, suicide, alcohol, drugs, mental health, debt, sexuality, abuse, gambling, sexual health, parenting and teen issues. The Samaritans, Al Anon, Aware, Women's Aid, Childline, Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) and Bodywhys are among the many support services listed.

Teen issues is the topic on which users have most frequently sought information, accounting for 16pc of requests. This is followed by mental health (13pc) while sexual health matters and suicide each accounted for llpc of all texts received. According to Rehab Group a wide range of factors can affect the mental well-being of young adults such as exam stress, financial problems, relationships and sexuality issues. Unfortunately with many crises there may be only a short period of time when a young person tries to access help and in many cases they do not know where to go to get the support they need. However, the 'Headsup' text service enabled people to receive, direct to their mobile phones, up-to-date contact numbers for organisations that could provide the practical advice they needed to deal with life's challenges. Stress Angela Kerins, chief executive of the Rehab Group, believes that a wide range of factors can affect mental wellbeing among young adults including exam stress, financial problems, relationships and sexuality issues.

The Samaritans will also be out again on the streets offering their support to anyone feeling anxious or stressed about the exams. Its initiative "Feet on the Street" swings into action on results night with volunteers out and about near the Central Bank plaza in Dublin between Dame Street and Temple Bar and in the square in Temple Bar between 9pm and llpm. A similar initiative will be in place next month when Junior Cert students receive their results. This can be a particularly stressful time not just for the students themselves but for their parents and friends, according to Mary Malcolm of the Samaritans. As well as volunteers being available to listen, the Samaritans also provide support services on their website, which gives details of its 20 branches which are located throughout the country. Its 24-hour helpline 1850 60 90 90 is also available