Government reveals plans for 300 hours of mental health classes in Irish secondary schools

Government reveals plans for 300 hours of mental health classes in Irish secondary schools

Government reveals plans for 300 hours of mental health classes in Irish secondary schools

The measures were revealed by Junior Minister Helen McEntee in an interview with The Irish Sun.

The Irish government plans to introduce mental health classes for pre-Junior Cert students, Junior Minister Helen McEntee has announced.

Suicide prevention in Ireland is the reason McEntee – who lost her own father Shane to suicide in 2012 – wants students to complete 300 hours of a health and well-being initiative in their teens.

“The Department of Education are going to be rolling out a new health and well-being programme,” she told The Irish Sun.

“This means up to Junior Cert young people will have to do 300 hours of this particular class. We have divided it into three age groups — so from 0-12, 13-18 and 19-25.

“Obviously the zero to 12 will be looking at the primary school level and what it is we can do to help them maintain their own well-being but also so they can identify if they’re experiencing a problem.”

McEntee also explained how achieving 24/7 services for people in crisis is her ultimate goal in government, although she admits that there is a way to go to achieve such comprehensive changes.

“We now have a budget of €853million for mental health,” she added. “I know there was talk that we have seen a reduction of funding but we have not. We now have one of the biggest budgets for mental health than ever before.

“Our priority is seven days a week, which would then hopefully be 24/7. I can’t give you a month or a year but the priority is to get our services to that stage as quickly as possible.

“We need to walk before we can run. There are a lot of places that already have that service but it’s not available across the country. That is the priority.

“What we need to start focusing on in particular is the whole area of prevention. Up until now our focus has rightly been on services and we need to continue to improve our services both in an acute setting and within the community.”

The 30-year-old feels it is important ‘normalise’ conversations around emotional wellbeing, especially for younger people who tend to internalise any such problems.

“For younger people I think it is a big thing that they’re not realising they have a problem. If they feel stressed, anxious or sad or upset we need to try and normalise talking about that.

“The task force is currently doing its work so without predicting what it is they decide to do, I know it will be a priority for them.”

BY TONY CUDDIHY

Full article available at: https://www.joe.ie/news/government-reveals-plans-for-mental-health-classes-in-irish-secondary-schools/572136

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