DIT launch online counselling service

DIT has launched a brand new online web chat service for students to avail of counselling services from the comfort of their own homes.

Quick consultations can now be carried out via Google Chat as students can instantly connect with trained counsellors based in almost every DIT campus every morning from 10am until 11am.

Although students can get in contact with counsellors from different DIT campuses, the main hub of the web service is currently based in DIT’s Mountjoy Square offices.

Speaking to TheCity.ie, DIT counsellor Catherine Whelan explained that since September when the service was initially rolled out, they have already seen a small spike in student engagement.

“A few more have been in contact this week, maybe not through the live chat but they are emailing the new address,” said Ms Whelan.

The new messaging system was introduced following another year of high demand for the service from students. Last year, some students had to wait nearly four weeks for an appointment when booking.

“We have been looking at student’s needs in the past and we would be very aware from the past that we have been under pressure, not being able to hit demand and we would have picked up this dissatisfaction from various surveys on that front,” said Ms Whelan.

“We wanted to make the service as accessible as possible, so over the summer, we’ve been reflecting on what we do. We wanted to see what way can we start addressing things differently,” continued Ms Whelan.

It was recently announced by the government that €35 million will be allocated to mental health services across the country as part of Budget 2018. However, there has been much scepticism surrounding this as mental health umbrella groups have claimed that much of this funding was already promised in last year’s budget.

According to the Irish Times, one group Mental Health Reform have said that Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, had confirmed that €20 million of the €35 million had already been promised in Budget 2017.

By Conor Shields

DIT societies raising money for charity

Every year, DIT societies run a Christmas Appeal where each society puts on events to raise money for charity.

Each year, charities are chosen by the students in societies and this year the Irish Cancer Society, St. Vincent de Paul and Pieta House were chosen.

From pie-throwing to fashion shows and bungee runs to dance showcases, this year’s societies had every type of event covered.

Check out their events below!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQVrZ4_Hslo

Follow Rachael on Twitter @racheibrien

Bressie Launches Mental Health Website in Addition to Talks

Bressie has launched a new website which focuses on mental and emotional health, while he continues his series of talks on mental health in Dublin and around the country.

The Dublin-based singer, best known for being the front-man for the Irish band The Blizzards and a judge on The Voice, has spoken at a number of Dublin-based colleges, including his old college UCD in October, DIT in November, and Trinity College this December.

stage
Photo by Cormac Dunne

Just last month in November he launched a new website called my1000hours, which focuses on the importance of mental health as well as physical health, and will also act as an ‘online support blog’. The website explains,

“So many of us put so much emphasis on physical fitness but seem to ignore the importance of our mental or emotional fitness. The evidence surrounding the correlation between positive mental and physical health has never been more profound”

The concept of 1000 hours is to encourage people to improve their mental health by challenging themselves to achieve things such as learning a new skill or running a marathon. This will all be with assistance from the 1000 team “who will help with both the physical training programmes, diets etc…and also the mental processes required to achieve these challenges.

The website is also due to add a section on musical therapy and how it could help to manage depression.

Bressie suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and since first speaking out about his struggles a year ago in 2013 he has become an advocate for mental health in Ireland. As well as speaking at schools and colleges around the country he has also spoken on a number of television and radio programmes on the issue.

Thanks to DITSU I got to talk to Bressie last month, after his talk on mental health in DIT as part of their Welfare November campaign:

For more information on 1000Hours follow the links below.

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Part time work, the new slave labour?

Workers rights are something that have been challenged over and over again. Throughout the last few decades it’s been inspiring to see people stand up everywhere and fight for their rights.

There are a lot of different groups that can say they were treated unfairly for a particular reason. Women have usually always been at the forefront of the workers rights issues. But now, maybe it’s time for the students to stand up and claim equal rights.

College students struggle as their rights are being taken for granted
College students struggle as their rights are being taken for granted

Under current law, those who work part-time have to be treated equal to those who are full time, if the job that they do is interchangeable. This applies to most people who work in the service industry such as restaurants, hotels, bars and supermarkets.

There’s a lot of stress put on students that work part time through college. The lecturers want them to put their college work first and their employers want them to put their jobs first. It’s a difficult situation when you need both in your life. A college degree will further your career later in life, but your current part time job is what puts the food on the table and a roof over your head.

Talking to one student, who wishes to remain anonymous, they discussed what kind of pressure they were put under in their job at a large supermarket chain;

“As an employee in a large retailer, I found that I was constantly having to defend myself to ensure even the most basic rights. If there was a problem, like for example I wasn’t paid correctly, I would have to spend days chasing down various people to try to sort it out, only to be met with an attitude that made me feel like I was the one in the wrong. Managers frequently talked down to me and belittled me. I was expected to go above and beyond my duties daily and my tiniest mistakes were blown wildly out of proportion. My requests for days off to allow me to sit exams were ignored. The message is very clear: “you are lucky to even be here, so shut up and get on with it.”

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Unfortunately, this is not the only incident where a student has felt like they were being pushed to forgo their college work in favour of their part time job.

Another student from Dublin Institute of Technology spoke about how their employer would over work them and expect them to be able to deal with it. The student said that they were meant to be on 20-25 hours a week, but after signing the contract that’s not how it worked out.

They put me on flexi-time which meant they put me in for hours I was in work when I should have been in college. It made education very difficult. On top of that I was given hours way above my contract with threats of losing my job if I made complaints about it. The argument was made that my job should always come ahead of my education.”

So what’s there to do if you are a college student and can’t seem to find the right words to speak up against exploitation? It seems like a doomed hope sometimes. You don’t want to keep working in an unfair environment, but you need the money to live.

Fortunately there is hope.

Femi Bankole, the Welfare Officer in DIT offers his help to students when it comes to standing up for your rights. He encourages every person who is having difficulties to come talk to him for advice.

“I’d usually advise firstly by asking what steps they’ve taken with regards to resolving the situation if any . Sometimes these conflicts can usually be sorted by just having a chat with your manager / supervisor … If not I’d be referring them on to NERA.”

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NERA, is the National Employment Rights Authority in Ireland. Established in 2007 they deal with coomplaints and queries in the workplace. They’re there for support if you feel that your workplace isn’t adhering to the laws. If you need more information you can visit www.citizensinformation.ie for more details on your entitlements as an employee.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 states the laws in relation to breaks and rest periods. The law goes as follows;

  • You are entitled to a break of 15 mins if you have worked four and a half hours.
  • You are entitled to an additional 30 mins if you work over six hours
  • For those who work in shops, if you work more then six hours, some of which are worked during 11.30-14.30pm, you are then entitled to a one hour (consecutive) break
  • You are meant to have a rest period of minimum 11 hours inbetween any shift
  • The maximum you are legally allowed work is seven days in a row before having to be given 24 hours off
  • Split shifts are not covered by the Act
  • The only ones exempt from the Act are Gardai, the Defense Forces, Family employees on farms/in private homes, employees who are in control of their own working hours