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28th Sep 2021

Campaigners say Government must continue funding mental health supports in schools

Melissa Carton

The pandemic has had a huge impact on mental health.

The Children’s Futures campaign are today calling on the Government to provide ringfenced funding that will address the impact of the pandemic on children and young people’s wellbeing.

Children’s Futures is a coalition group of advocacy organisations working to limit the negative impact of lockdown on a generation of children and young people.

According to the Children’s Futures campaign, the recent launch of the CLASS scheme was a welcome development in terms of providing additional teaching support for children.

However, the Government must now prioritise providing ringfenced funding for wellbeing support in schools, specifically in-school counselling and therapeutic supports, and the mainstreaming of wellbeing programmes.

Speaking today, Suzanne Connolly CEO of Barnardos said:

“The Oireachtas Committee on Education recently published a set of recommendations to address bullying and the impact on mental health in schools. The Committee recognised that a wide range of actors are needed to support children and young people’s wellbeing. This includes the provision of onsite emotional counselling and therapeutic supports and these should be incorporated into a reconstituted and expanded National Educational Psychological and Counselling Service (NEPCS). The Committee also recognised the role of organisations in the wider community by recommending the mainstreaming of programmes such as Barnardos Roots of Empathy and Friendship Group as a means of promoting wellbeing.”

Also speaking today on the issue Tanya Ward, CEO of the Children’s Rights Alliance concluded:

“The Government’s Education’s Wellbeing Policy and Framework recognises that schools are not just a place to learn, they also support a child to reach their full potential in terms of physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. The Children’s Futures campaign has been vocal in calling for schools to remain open, in line with public health advice, during the pandemic. While our schools are now open, many children and young people are struggling emotionally. The school community has a vital role to play in the national Covid19 recovery and we need to make sure that resources are made available to implement the Government’s Wellbeing Policy.”

The #ChildrensFuturesIRL Campaign was established early in 2021 to work with Government, education partners and others to secure a cross-party, cross-sector public commitment to prioritise reopening – and keeping open – schools in line with public health advice and to limit the negative impact of lockdown on a generation of children and young people.