A university counselling service is celebrating securing half a million pounds of funding to expand Welsh language mental health support for students across the whole of Wales.
Bangor University’s Counselling Service, one of our organisational members, is leading a project that will develop a range of extra services for Welsh speakers over the next 10 months.
The money from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales – HEFCW – will help fund support for some of the most vulnerable students, pay for digital mental health resources and enable the creation of a Welsh language network for therapists and mental health practitioners.
Head of Counselling at the university Kate Tindle, a BACP member, said: “When we’re at our most distressed and vulnerable, it’s our mother tongue we want to think and speak in.
“A lot of people in north Wales speak Welsh as a first language – 60% in the area of Gwynedd where we are based. It will make a real difference to our students and the wider community that we can provide these services in Welsh.
“There’s a real cultural need for this project. We can all be a bit reticent to speak up and seek help, so it’s even more important that people can access help in their first language.
“This is not just about Bangor University, as we are working in partnership with other Welsh Universities and further education colleges. A lot of mental health provision in the area does fall on our shoulders.”
Under Welsh law, universities have a statutory duty to allow students to use Welsh when accessing counselling or mental health support.
Kate added: “We’re already strong in what we offer in this area and have several counsellors in the team for whom Welsh is their first language. But it’s lovely to be able to do more. This is an important piece of work for us and we’re really pleased to get this funding."
The project will include creating online mental health resources aimed at Welsh-speaking students, in accessible and easy-to-understand Welsh.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Skills training will be offered to Welsh-speaking students across several universities in Wales to help some of the most vulnerable student groups, including those who self-harm or experience suicidal ideation.
It will use an evidence-based model that has been tried and tested at the university.
Our member Endaf Evans, one of the Welsh speaking counsellors at Bangor University, is to form an All-Wales Welsh Language Mental Health Practitioners and Therapists Network.
“This project is very close to my heart,” explained Endaf. “A turning point in my own life, when growing up in a small rural village, was being able to call a helpline and to be able to express how I truly felt in Welsh.”
“Mae’r prosiect hwn yn agos iawn at fy nghalon. Trobwynt yn fy mywyd fy hun, wrth dyfu i fyny mewn pentref gwledig bach, oedd gallu galw llinell gymorth a gallu mynegi sut roeddwn i wir yn teimlo yn Gymraeg.”
The project is being run in partnership with Aberystwyth University, University of Wales Trinity St Davids and further education colleges Grwp Llandrillo Menai.
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