Live-saving, innovative 24/7 text service launches in Kerry – Griffin If you can’t talk about it, text about it A free, anonymous and inclusive text service has been launched to provide support for people going through a mental health or emotional crisis, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD has said. Minister Griffin said: “‘50808’ is a first of its kind for Ireland, a free 24/7 text service, providing everything from a calming chat to immediate support for people who need it. “Many people – particularly young people – don’t feel comfortable making that call or reaching out for help. “This is a service that will offer a lifeline to people of all ages across Kerry and indeed across the country. “It’s been an exceptionally difficult time for our country, and this service is needed more than ever. There is no doubt the launch of 50808 by Crisis Text Line will save lives.” Minister Griffin continued: “50808 has been in development for some time, and it couldn’t launch at a more important moment. “The service’s trained Crisis Volunteers will help people through this current crisis and will continue to provide free, 24/7 support in the long term. “This life-saving service is part of the government’s strategy to protect the mental health of all members of the public. “I’d like to commend my Fine Gael colleagues, the Minister for Health Simon Harris and the Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly for prioritising this essential service. “Since the initiative began its pilot in September last year, it has provided support to 3,801 people through 6,694 conversations. It is expected that ‘50808’ will support over 50,000 people each year once fully operational. “Of the almost four thousand people supported; ● 832 people were thinking about suicide ● 360 people were self-harming ● The top issues discussed were: Anxiety/stress (40%), Depression/sadness (32%), Relationships (29%), Isolation/loneliness (23%) and Suicide (18%) ● 80% of texters have been between the ages of 16 and 34 ● 65% of texters were female, 24% male, 2% transgender and 2% non-binary ● 30% of texters identified as LGBTI+ ● 35% of texters are living with a disability, an existing mental health condition, or other medical condition ● Reasons for texting: Didn’t have anyone else to talk to (50%), Wanted to talk to someone who didn’t know me (48%), More comfortable texting than talking (40%), To embarrassed to talk on the phone or in person (31%), Didn’t have access to a therapist (31%) Minister Griffin continued: “The service uses an artificial intelligence (AI) system to analyse a texter’s initial message, scanning keywords, phrases, and even emojis to determine the level of severity. The texter’s at most imminent risk are placed at the top of the queue. “50808 has performed over 100 “Active Rescues” since beginning in pilot phase in September 2019 in which the National Ambulance Service is contacted for a texter in need of emergency support. “The service allows trained Crisis Volunteers to volunteer from home. Crisis Volunteers complete a 30-hour training and have 24/7 supervision by full-time mental health professionals.” Minister Griffin concluded: “The COVID-19 crisis has been a challenging time for us all. If you need to talk, please pick up the phone and text 50808 where you will be connected to a trained and compassionate volunteer. The service is available 24/7.” ENDS Notes to Editors: About ‘50808’: ● 50808 is a first of its kind for Ireland: a free 24/7 text service, providing everything from a calming chat to immediate support for people going through a mental health or emotional crisis – big or small. From breakups or bullying, to anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings, our Crisis Volunteers are available 24/7 for anonymous text conversations. Our aim is to provide immediate support in the short term and connect people to resources that will help them in the future.
June 19, 2020
Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin urges students to apply for SUSI grants for the 2020/2021 academic year Fine Gael TD, Brendan Griffin has today urged students who have not yet applied for SUSI grants for the 2020/2021 academic year to do so before July 9th. Deputy Griffin has reassured students that the grant scheme is flexible and can address loss of income as a result of Covid-19. “Students and their families who have experienced a fall in income can seek to have their application reviewed under the change of circumstances provision within the scheme, provided they can demonstrate that any change in income is ‘likely to obtain for the duration of the approved course or for the foreseeable future’. “Fine Gael is committed to building an inclusive higher education system and SUSI grants are an excellent resource for eligible students to avail of. “Covid-19 has caused significant disruption across the country and students have had to deal with the closure of colleges and a disruption to their studies. “We are conscious this pandemic has also resulted in a loss of income for many families and created a time of financial worry in many households. I want to assure people that there is scope to address loss of income as part of the grant scheme,” Deputy Griffin concluded. As of Friday 3 July, SUSI received over 77,000 applications. Of these 77,000 applications over 38,000 were from renewal applicants and over 39,000 were from new applicants. Our latest figures show that over 46,000 students have now been awarded funding for academic year 20-21. Of these 46,000 students, 13,000 are new applicants. Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said: “I am conscious there are families that may not have qualified for SUSI grants previously could qualify this year due to Covid-19. “The deadline for priority applications is later this week and I would really encourage people to get the applications in. “SUSI grants are designed to help students and their families with the cost of returning to college. But we know fewer people are qualifying for them due to an improved economy. Student supports and how we help families will be a priority for me going forward.” ENDS For further information please contact Brendan on 087-2549116
July 8, 2020