Staff Guide

Back to Student Counselling 

Referring Students to the Student Counselling Service at ATU Sligo : A Guide for Staff

The Student Counselling Service is a professional, confidential student support service that is available free of charge to all registered ATU Sligo students residing in the Republic of Ireland.

We are located on the ground floor of the Student Centre beside the Students Union. Our opening hours are Monday to Thursday 9.00a.m – 4.00p.m.

Why Counselling?

The service offers students the opportunity to explore any issue which may be impacting on their mental health and general well-being in a confidential setting.


Confidentiality is a central and integral part of the counselling process. All information discussed is confidential and won’t be disclosed to anyone outside of the Student Counselling Service. The only exception is if the counsellor is concerned about immediate risk to the student or a third party.

Common Signs of Student Distress

Awareness of Mental Health  What’s Helpful?
Feeling worried, anxious, tearful or overwhelmed by problems  Talking to a trusted family member, friend, or professional
Finding it hard to feel motivated or interested in anything  Keeping physically fit
Isolating oneself from other people Make time to Relax
Changes in sleeping and eating patterns Be Part of the college experience – Join a club or society
Being angry for no reason Be Aware of changes in your Mental Health
Finding it hard to concentrate and make decisions Taking Care of Yourself


Emergency Referrals

Immediate Risk/Urgent/Emergency Situations: In circumstances where staff have become concerned about a student and believe the student to be an immediate risk of harm to self or others, one or more of the courses of actions listed below should be undertaken.

Such circumstances could include some or all of the following:

  • If you believe the student has overdosed
  • If a student appears unduly agitated, aggressive or threatening

Recommended/Suggested Response:

  • Telephone 999 or 112 for an emergency Gardaí/ Ambulance support and inform security (ext. 888 or 0876379470). Inform the Student Health Service (Please note that this guideline needs to be read in conjunction with ATU Sligo, Critical Incident Policy).

Other Urgent/Emergency circumstances include:

  • If a student is expressing suicidal thoughts or other thoughts such as that they wished they were dead
  • If a student is threatening self-harm
  • If a student is expressing a risk to others
  • If the student is exhibiting bizarre behaviour
  • If a student is expressing bizarre thoughts or ideas
  • If a student appears to be not in touch with reality


  • Try not to act alone, if possible seek the help/advice from another colleague
  • Advise the student of your concern and the basis for that concern
  • Get the student’s details – student ID, telephone number, and date of birth, and if they are currently attending the Student Counselling or Student Health Service
  • With the student’s consent contact one of these services:
    Phone: 071 9305463 explain your concerns, requesting their immediate help/intervention and confirm an appointment
  • Accompany the student to the appointment
  • If the student refuses consent to disclose information or refuses to avail of an appointment with support services, and you believe the student or others to be in danger, you should still contact and inform one of the agencies above. If unable to make contact with SCS or SHS, telephone the MediCentre 071 9142550 for GP support
  • If the incident occurs outside the operating hours of any of the above services, contact the Emergency Department (ED) of Sligo University Hospital 071 917 4504, Out of Hour’s emergency GP service CareDoc Sligo on 0818 365399 and / or telephone 999 or 112 for an emergency Gardaí/ Ambulance support
  • If the incident occurs whilst off-campus on a field trip for instance, contact local health services for advice and assistance. Ensure you have the contact details of nearest ED hospital service and Out of Hour’s emergency GP service before departure
  • Staff are advised to consult their head of school / department for guidance on incident report responsibilities
  • Mental Health Act: Application of this act will be managed by the designated SHS GP

All references to suicide must be taken seriously. It is ok to ask ‘Are you having thoughts about suicide?’ If the student answers ‘yes’, or when you are in doubt about the student’s feelings or intentions, a consultation call to the Student Counselling Service is a good way to help you reach an appropriate judgment about what action to take.

SafeTALK training is run in ATU Sligo throughout each academic year, and is open to all staff. This programme prepares participants to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources. The aim of this training is to prevent suicide and be prepared to become suicide alert.

When to Refer in a Non-Emergency situation

The following may be some indicators as to when to refer a student to the Student Counselling Service:

  • Uncharacteristic drop in Academic Performance
  • Unusual Behaviour (Obsessive Thoughts / Substance Misuse)
  • Significant Life Changes and Crises (Bereavement / Relationship Issues)
  • When you are unsure of what to do, or how to respond

How to Refer

If you decide that a referral to the Student Counselling Service is appropriate, it is recommended that you talk to the student in a straightforward manner. Point out the specific behaviours that have led to your concern. Make it clear that your recommendation represents your best judgement about how the student can get help.

Except for emergencies, the option for the student to accept or reject your referral must be left open. Sometimes students are sceptical of such help and reluctant to use it. It is important that you accept the student’s reaction, while calmly reiterating your recommendation without undue pressure. It often helps to remind the student that it is a confidential service.

To make an appointment with the Student Counselling Service simply contact the service by:

  • Email:
  • Phone: 071 9305463


If you are unsure of what to recommend or how to respond, a brief telephone consultation with the Student Counselling Service may be helpful in clarifying relevant issues, explore alternative approaches, and identify other resources, while maintaining student confidentially (except in the case of emergencies).

You can contact the Student Counselling Service by:

Phone: 071 9305463

Out of Hours Supports:

  • Call 999 or 112 in the event of an emergency
  • CareDoc Sligo: 0818 365399
  • A&E visit your nearest Accident and Emergency Department
  • Helplines:
    TEXT Crisis Textline Ireland: For Free 24/7 support in a crisis, Text ITSligo to 50808
    Ring The Samaratians 24/7 on Freephone 116 123