A CORK TD has arranged a meeting with Education Minister Norma Foley and the minister of state for mental health Mary Butler to discuss the availability of emotional counselling and therapeutic supports in both primary and secondary schools.
Fianna Fáil’s Christopher O’Sullivan said he intends to discuss the implementation of sustained, individual, and intensive emotional counselling and therapeutic supports in schools with the Ministers over the coming weeks.
The Cork South West TD said “many people have expressed serious concern over the lack of emotional counselling and therapeutic supports at both primary and secondary level.”
Mr O’Sullivan said the aim of the meeting is to establish what supports may need to be created to aid children suffering trauma, anxiety or adverse childhood experiences.
“With the added stress of Covid, children are finding it hard to cope,” he said. “Emotional counselling and therapeutic supports are widely available at third-level, but there is little to no early intervention in our primary and secondary schools. Trauma doesn’t start at 18.
“There’s a complete lack of trauma counselling and supports for kids who have suffered bereavement, particularly during Covid.”
A Department of Education spokesperson told The Echo: “The National Educational Psychological Service [NEPS] of the Department provides a comprehensive, school-based psychological service to all primary and post- primary schools through the application of psychological theory and practice to support the wellbeing, academic, social and emotional development of all learners. NEPS provides its service to schools through casework, support and development work for schools.
“At post-primary level, counselling is a key part of the role of the guidance counsellor, offered on an individual or group basis as part of a developmental learning process, at moments of personal crisis but also at key transition points.”
The department said guidance allocations were increased for all schools in response to Covid-19 during this academic year.
The statement added that NEPS is currently developing a range of workshops on the promotion of wellbeing and resilience to be delivered in schools.