Urgent resourcing for mental health needed

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) provided both oral and written evidence to the Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science to support their report on mental health supports in schools published this week.

The report published by the committee this week includes several recommendations made by this union.

Key recommendations included:

  • The Department of Education (DE) Pilot Programme of Counselling Supports for Primary Schools should be implemented and, pending review, rolled out to all primary and post-primary schools.
  • The DE should restore middle management positions removed from schools and undertake an assessment of school leadership posts at primary level, with a view to aligning the number of these posts with equivalent posts at secondary level.
  • The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research Innovation and Science should establish an expert taskforce on professional training for school mental health supports, with a focus on demographic projections to ensure adequate undergraduate and postgraduate student places to meet growing demand.
  • The report called for the establishment of a national mental health programme for children and young people, as a matter of urgency. In particular, the committee argued that this programme should consider the establishment of mental health supports on-site in schools – a key call by the INTO.
  • The committee called for ring-fenced funding to fund the dedicated post or a post of responsibility of a Designated Mental Health Lead (DMHL) in schools. DMHLs would have responsibility for delivering mental health supports to students on-site in the school in liaison with relevant Health Service Executive (HSE) professional staff.

The INTO calls on the relevant Government ministers to act on the recommendations as a matter of urgency.

Speaking following the publication of the report, INTO President John Driscoll demanded action:

In the same week that unearths damning interim findings of the Mental Health Commission on the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, the INTO welcomes the timely publication of this important report which reflects practical recommendations put forward by this union to support our most vulnerable children.

“We urge the Government to fast-track the vital resources and supports recommended in this report, and we call for the commencement of the pilot scheme for counselling services in primary schools. This practical solution was secured by this union in budget 2023 and must be swiftly rolled out. Children only have one childhood – time is of the essence.”

Click here to read the report.