Smith welcomes establishment of a €5m pilot programme of counselling and mental health supports for primary schools in Cavan and Monaghan 

Local Fianna Fáil TD, Brendan Smith, has welcomed confirmation from his party colleague and Minister for Education Norma Foley that counselling services will be provided to children in primary schools across seven counties, including Cavan and Monaghan, under a new €5m pilot programme.

It is the first time a counselling service has been rolled out in Irish primary schools.

The pilot programme will be delivered across two strands.  

The first will see one-to-one counselling sessions for primary schools across counties Cavan, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Mayo, Monaghan, Tipperary, via access to a Department of Education-approved counsellor.

The second will see the introduction of wellbeing practitioners, who will work under the supervision of National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) psychologists. 

Welcoming this significant step towards giving children access to the help they need, Deputy Brendan Smith said, “Minister Foley has recognised the impact of Covid-19 on primary school-aged children and this service is designed to help those young students who may be suffering from mental health challenges stemming from the pandemic.

“Developing and promoting wellbeing across our education system is a key priority for Fianna Fáil in Government as it is essential to allowing children to learn and grow to the very best of their abilities. 

“I am pleased to confirm that €5m has been allocated to roll out this pilot programme and this will further complement ongoing work and resources to support children’s mental health and wellbeing already being provided in our schools.”

Deputy Brendan Smith concluded by saying that Fianna Fáil in Government will continue to explore ways to improve supports for young people, including around increased awareness, promoting help-seeking behaviour and sign-posting to the wide range of available services.