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Further and Higher Education

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 19 May 2022

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Questions (178)

Richard Boyd Barrett


178. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if he will ensure in Budget 2023 that there are enhanced mental health services across all further and higher education and apprenticeship courses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25335/22]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

The mental health and wellbeing of students is a priority for the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought increased stress and anxiety levels for students.

My Department has progressed a number of initiatives, in partnership with the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), over the last few years to address the broad spectrum of mental health and wellbeing issues faced by students, including:

- Mental Health and Well-being funding supports

- Healthy Campus Charter and Framework

- Student and Learner Wellbeing and Engagement Working Group

- National Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Framework

- PCHEI (representative body of Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education) and Partnership with Text 50808.

My Department allocates funding to the HEA for direct disbursement to the HEIs. €2 million is provided to address student mental health and wellbeing in higher education each year. This is allocated by the HEA to HEIs through the Recurrent Grant Model (RGAM).

As autonomous bodies, the internal disbursement of this funding, including the funding of their student services, the employment of counselling staff, and the procurement of counselling and mental health services are a matter for the individual institutions.

An additional €3m to underpin student wellbeing and mental health in HEIs was secured for each of the 2020/21 and 2021/22 academic years as part of the funding packages, to mitigate against the impact of COVID-19.

In the Further Education and Training (FET) area, learners may have access to internal psychological supports from qualified ETB staff. Funding for these supports are dispersed under general individual programme and learner support headings. SOLAS allocates funding for Guidance, Counselling and Psychological Services for Youthreach participants.

The funding of mental health services will be considered by my department as part of the overall estimates process for Budget 2023.