Statement by Clive Byrne, Director National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, in relation to the HSE’s latest launch of Mind Monsters
“We welcome the HSE’s launch of the latest phase of Mind Monsters, an information sharing mental health programme for young people.
However, we welcome this with slight caution. Mental health support for students, particularly for those studying for their Leaving Certificate, or Junior Certificate are currently lacking, as are the processes in place to identify issues from outset.
Access to mental health services in schools is a constant topic for several Government Departments, however, political intervention has been frustratingly slow.
As part of an extensive research programme the NAPD carried out last year, we found that 37% of the students surveyed alluded to mental health issues impeding their studies and, or their exams. Causes of such issues ranged from bereavement, physical illness and operations to relationship breakdowns, and personal family issues.
Coupled with the personal and peer pressure for success, this can lead to severe anxiety and depression. The HSE’s campaign advises students on measures they can take that can have a huge benefit on them such as sleep patterns, putting down the phone and regular study breaks, and it is this sort of advice that students, teachers and parents need more of.
But so too is access to appropriate, assessment and treatment driven services in schools. This new phase is a positive move from the Government and HSE, and it is encouraging to see that this is on their agenda. It is important that all relevant stakeholders are proactive in working with the Government to address this issue, and we look forward to playing our part in that. Best practice is important, solutions focused is essential, and leadership is required to take an immediate, physical and practical approach to addressing this issue.”