The Department does not currently have plans for a national school-based counselling programme at post primary-school level. NEPS provides consultation for school staff who may have concerns about individual pupils or students. NEPS supports schools in putting interventions in place for individuals with clearly identified and serious difficulties. Consultation in relation to appropriate therapeutic interventions delivered in the school setting is also available. When counselling is considered to be required a referral is made to an outside agency. Schools are advised to have identified appropriate referral pathways in consultation with HSE and other mental health services in their local community. NEPS helps schools in the process of making referrals to external agencies as appropriate for students who require more specialised interventions. NEPS Guidelines for Schools on Responding to Critical Incidents provide advice for schools in handling critical incidents and also advises about prevention and early intervention strategies for students at risk.
The Department of Education and Skills promotes a comprehensive and whole-school approach to the promotion of wellbeing and positive mental health focusing on the entire school community, as well as groups and individual young people with identified need.
School guidance counselling service plays a valuable role as an integral part of the school’s pastoral care and student support structures to promote student wellbeing at whole-school level. Every post-primary school is required to publish a whole-school guidance plan in which the school outlines how students can be supported.
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 promoting wellbeing and positive mental health. It focuses on the school community, as well as groups and individual students 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 students.