My Department’s Wellbeing Policy and Framework for practice has given recognition to the importance of promoting wellbeing in education. It outlines a comprehensive, whole-school approach to the promotion of wellbeing and positive mental health. It focuses on the whole school community, as well as groups and individual young people with identified needs. Schools promote wellbeing through a range of activities and approaches to support the academic, physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual development of all children and young people.
Each post primary school currently receives an allocation in respect of guidance provision, calculated by reference to the approved enrolment. 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 Guidance Counsellor also provides a referral of students to external counselling agencies and professionals. The Guidance Counsellor is key in developing and implementing innovative approaches to wellbeing promotion on a whole schools basis though the school’s Guidance Plan.
The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) in my Department provides consultation for school staff who may have concerns about individual students. NEPS supports schools in putting interventions in place for individuals with identified difficulties. Consultation in relation to appropriate therapeutic interventions delivered in the school setting is also available.
When counselling or more specialised intervention is considered to be required, a referral is made to an outside agency. NEPS supports schools with this onward referral to the HSE and other local mental health services.