My Department is strongly supportive of the promotion of positive mental health awareness in both primary and post-primary schools and provides support and resources in this area. The Department adopts a holistic and integrated approach to supporting the work of schools in promoting positive mental health and to supporting those with a broad range of problems, behavioural emotional and social.
The process spans the curriculum in schools, whole-school ethos, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, student support and pastoral care and the provision of professional development for teachers. It also involves other supports such as educational psychological services and guidance and counselling services, and the interface with other agencies, both nationally and locally. Schools are assisted by the Well-Being in Post-Primary Schools: Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention (2013) and the Well-Being in Primary Schools Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion (2015) which have been developed by my Department to provide a framework and bring coherence to this area of work, and build upon the multitude of practices that are already in place to promote well-being and mental health in schools. Copies of the Guidelines have been circulated to all schools. The Guidelines emphasise the need to integrate all elements by using a coordinated whole-school approach in the promotion of social emotional well-being/mental health. This includes developing and integrating the Health Promoting Schools process, the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum, and the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) continuum of support. The Special Education Support Service (SESS) has a particular remit for provision of training in regards students with special needs. Building effective inter-agency relationships is also essential. The Well-Being Guidelines provide information for schools on the supports services that are currently available. Schools are advised to seek this support when developing the whole school approach. It is important that this support is well co-ordinated and that schools are clear about the responsibilities of the support agencies. The guidelines advise that in the event of pupils presenting with mental health difficulties which are above and beyond the school's capacity and ability to support, school authorities should identify and access the referral pathways for the various primary and secondary healthcare services in their particular area. My Department's National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) is available to advise schools on the matter. Referrals should, of course, be undertaken with parental or guardian consent and collaboration, except in an exceptional situation where there may be child protection issues. In normal circumstances referral to Clinical Psychology Services and to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) is made through the student's G.P.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.