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02nd Jun 2023

Free counselling pilot scheme introduced for all primary school children

Clodagh McKeon

Norma Foley

Children can access 8 one-on-one counselling sessions with Department of Education-approved counsellors.

From this September, primary school students in counties Cavan, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Mayo, Monaghan, and Tipperary will be able to access free counselling and mental health supports.

These seven counties have been selected to take part in the €5 million pilot scheme.

The Department of Education said this scheme aims “to recognise the impact of Covid-19 on primary school-aged children and will work to mitigate the mental health challenges, which may be experienced in schools”.

Under the new programme, children can access up to 8 one-on-one counselling sessions with Department of Education-approved counsellors.

The scheme is progressing quickly with parents and students to be given information on it from next week.

Schools will share helpful information on how parents and the wider school staff can help support children who are attending these counselling sessions.

The department chose the seven counties following an analysis of the availability of local counsellors and after communications with local National Educational Psychological Service teams.

According to RTE News, while announcing the programme, Norma Foley said: “Well-being is at the very heart of all that we do in the education system.

“Developing and promoting well-being is essential to allowing children to learn and grow to the very best of their abilities.

“This new pilot project aims to support, enhance and nurture well-being in our primary schools with two new support models.”

She said the scheme will “complement ongoing work and resources to support children’s mental health and well-being being provided in schools by the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) and, in post-primary schools, guidance counsellors; as well as the wider mental health supports available to children and young people through the health services.”


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