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For Immediate Release
31st January 2013
A plan to promote positive mental health in Ireland’s secondary schools was today launched by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn and Mental Health Minister Kathleen Lynch.
The guidelines, along with the bullying action plan announced on Tuesday, are to be very much welcomed and represent a proactive approach to promoting positive mental health in our young people.
“After a lacklustre approach by previous Governments it is extremely positive to see proactive statements of intent from the two Ministers - but significant resources will be required to turn these ambitions into reality” says John Buckley, of youth website SpunOut.ie
“Both sets of guidelines advocate a ‘whole-school approach’ and while this is backed-up by research and one which we fully agree with, it is important schools are given the incentive, resources and support required to implement these guidelines.”
A whole-school approach requires a bigger investment in training and CPD to give teachers the confidence to deal with students experiencing mental health difficulties. This training is to be delivered by the National Office for Suicide Prevention.
“Minister Lynch promised on Budget Day in December 2012 to fill the 414 community mental health posts budgeted for the previous year by today (January 31st). Less than half of these posts have been filled to date. Intent now needs to turn into action, otherwise we’ll be left with empty promises which will be of no use to our young people.” adds John.
“Extra-curricular and personal development programmes do a huge amount to build resilience and confidence in young people but these also require resourcing and proper structures which do not exist in our education system at present.”
“Most of our extra-curricular opportunities are ad hoc and organised by committed and dedicated teachers in their own time. This needs to change if we are to see improvements in the mental health of our young people.” says John.
“The SPHE curriculum has been put forward by Government as a means of educating young people about positive mental health and bullying. Implementing a well-planned and integrated SPHE curriculum will be a significant challenge and one which needs to be expedited and inspected by the department if we are to see results.” concludes John.
For further information:
Communications Officer, SpunOut.ie