Frequently Asked Questions  

I am feeling suicidal, what do I do?

Feeling suicidal can be a sign that life has become very overwhelming and so it is wonderful that you are reaching out for support to help get you through. It’s important to link in with experienced professionals who can help now and also to get ongoing support to address the underlying challenges that contribute to these feelings of overwhelm. Here are some immediate actions you could take:

  • If you consider yourself to be at risk of self-harm contact your GP or nearest Accident & Emergency Unit.
  • If you were hoping to speak to someone immediately contact:  Samaritans 116 123 (24 hour freephone) Pieta House 1800 247 247 (24 hour freephone) Aware 1800 804 848 (10am-10pm freephone) 
  • Speak with a parent, other trusted family member or responsible adult who can support you to get the professional help you need right now.

Email and request to speak to a counsellor who would be most willing to speak with you directly over the phone or online and provide you with ongoing support. Please be aware that replies to this email address will normally be during office hours 9 – 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank Holidays).

My family are drinking heavily at home and there is a lot of fighting that is starting to turn physical. Some of us are terrified now, where can I get help?

This sounds like a deeply troubling and upsetting situation that has developed in your family. It’s very understandable that you would be afraid and good that you are reaching out for support.

  • If you or anyone in your house is currently being harmed in any way or at serious risk of being harmed, then call the local Gardaí or in an emergency dial 999.
  • You can contact us at for ongoing free personal support
  • The list of agencies listed below specialise in providing this support for families and will direct you to local services in your area. Confidential National Support Line: 01-5543811  1800 341 900

ISPCC Childline  –  listening to children  1800 66 66 66

My friend called to say he had been self-harming but is now talking seriously about killing himself. I’m really worried, how can I help him?

Supporting someone who is feeling suicidal is too much to manage on our own, so asking for help like you are doing is a really good first step. Here are some steps you could take to get support:

  • As a student of NUI, Galway you can speak with a trained counsellor about this situation by sending your request to . Replies will be during normal office hours 9 – 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays).
  • You friend clearly needs professional help which you are unable to provide but you could gently and firmly insist that although you care, you are not the best person to help him and that he needs to speak with a professional immediately.
  • Find out if your friend’s family or anyone he is living with knows how he is feeling. Sometimes people with suicidal thinking are reluctant to talk to family and friends, but it’s imperative to keep the person alive until they feel better. In extreme situations even if the person does not want you to,  it may be necessary to tell the person’s parents or other responsible adult who can help and  who will ensure that the person is brought to see a professional, or A & E in an emergency.
  • His GP would be his first option and if he wants to speak to someone immediately or in a moment of crisis he could chat to the Samaritans Freephone 116 123 (any time, day or night), email or Pieta House, Freephone 1800 247 247 (any time, day or night) Text HELP to 51444 (standard message rates apply). These are also good numbers for those supporting someone who is self-harming or having thoughts of suicide, and you can use them as a support for yourself.
  • I know this is a lot to take on board but this is a very upsetting and distressing situation for you and it’s important that you have support first of all for yourself, but also that your friend has any supports he needs to. If you send a request to a one of our counsellors would be very willing to speak with you and provide you with ongoing support.

Is counselling completely confidential?

Yes. As a general rule, counsellors will not divulge any information about you outside the service, without your permission. The only exception to this would be if your counsellor feels there is a serious risk either to yourself or to someone else.

We maintain electronic case notes on all clients. These are kept on a confidential, secure system.  The notes are there to help the counsellor reflect on your situation and offer the best possible help. Your details are also kept anonymously on a database for statistical purposes only.

Disclosures of Historical or Current Child Abuse in Counselling

What happens when an adult client tells a counsellor or a psychotherapist that they have been sexually abused in childhood and that they are aware of specific children with whom the perpetrator is in contact and who may be currently at risk?

As well as considering all aspects of the adult client’s safety, wellbeing and recovery, the therapist will have to take into account the child welfare and protection concerns that may arise in relation to the alleged perpetrator (2011 Children First guidelines, 3.6.1).  There are circumstances in which this may impinge on client confidentiality.

There are 3 possible scenarios:

 1. The alleged perpetrator is no longer alive and therefore poses no risk to other children. There are no child protection issues to consider here.

 2. The alleged perpetrator is still alive, but is currently living outside the state. In this case, the therapist is not required to take any further action around child protection. If the client is aware of specific children or young people who may be at risk of abuse in another jurisdiction, they are advised to discuss with their therapist the benefits of making contact with child protection authorities there.

3. The alleged perpetrator is still alive and the therapist is aware that there may be a risk to the safety of specific children or young people in contact with the alleged perpetrator. In this scenario, the therapist will report their concerns giving as much detail as is available to them to the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, using the standard reporting form. The concern will be investigated and the client will be contacted by Tusla’s child protection social workers.  The therapist will offer advice and support to the client throughout this process.


The therapist is also obliged to report cases of physical abuse and willful neglect of  specific children to Tusla, if they are made aware of such circumstances.

Is it free?

The service is free to all registered students of NUI, Galway.

Who is counselling for?

Counselling is available to all full and part-time students, undergraduate and post graduate of NUI, Galway. Each year approximately 1300 students have contact with the service. These include students who have come from school to college, mature students, international students and students with disabilities.

Will the fact that I attended the counselling service appear on my record?


How soon can I be seen?

This depends on the time of year. We aim to offer everyone an appointment for on-going counselling within 7-10 working days. However during busy times the wait can be longer. Because of the high demand for spaces, we would appreciate if you would let the administrator know, as soon as possible, if you wish to cancel.  

How many sessions will I have?

Student Counselling is a short term service and the average number of sessions attended by each student last year was approximately 4. 

What information is available to take away with me?

We provide some self help fact sheets  in our waiting area, as well as information on various organisations who can provide help. We also stock a range of free booklets on a variety of mental health topics such as Anxiety, Stress, Depression and others.

Will the counsellor contact other people on my behalf, eg academic, doctor?

The student may request the counsellor to liaise with, or write to, a third party (e.g. an academic adviser, course convenor, doctor). In the case of letters, the client will agree the contents and, wherever possible, have read the letter before it is sent. In the case of telephone calls, the purpose of the call and the nature and extent of the information disclosed will be agreed with the client prior to the call being made. Generally, as the first point of contact with the service, the secretary manages all incoming messages and passes these onto the counsellor concerned.

Clients will be informed of any contact with the service made by a third party as soon as it is possible for the counsellor to do so. The counsellor will only communicate with a third party about a client between appointments where the client has given explicit permission, subject to the previously noted exceptions.

Can a staff member arrange an appointment on behalf of a student?

If you feel the student needs to see a counsellor, it’s important to have their agreement in this. You can then make an appointment for them, provided they are with you at the time

Is the service open throughout the academic holidays?

The service is open throughout the calendar year except between Christmas and New Year when the University as a whole closes. Between semesters availability is subject to staff holidays