Education

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Students 'stripped of mental health supports'

Ralph Riegel

Published 23/04/2014|02:30

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Pictured at the ASTI Conference are delegates Ann Gillen, Claire Kelleher, Eleanor Troy and Eamon Murphy from Cork. Picture: Patrick Browne
Pictured at the ASTI Conference are delegates Ann Gillen, Claire Kelleher, Eleanor Troy and Eamon Murphy from Cork. Picture: Patrick Browne

SECONDARY schools struggling to cope with unprecedented student mental health problems warned budget cutbacks have impacted on critical support systems.

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An ASTI survey found that schools are now battling to cope with a large variety of student problems, ranging from cyber-bullying to depression and from suicide counselling to eating disorders and homophobia.

Over 60pc of Irish secondary schools warned that the loss of guidance counselling resources had significantly impacted on student well-being.

The latest round of Department of Education cuts resulted in 70pc of Irish secondary schools reducing the provision of one-to-one counselling.

"(The) decision to cut the ex-quota provision for guidance counsellors was a major error, particularly so because it followed other staffing cutbacks including the reduction in classroom teachers and the moratorium in posts of responsibility in 2009," ASTI President Sally Maguire warned.

"You (the Government) are literally stripping schools of supports for students."

The ASTI said it was "worried greatly" by the scale of mental health issues now being dealt with by guidance counsellors whose resources are being cut to the bone.

"All teenagers face challenges and they need supportive adults and access to support services during those difficult times. Teachers who deal with 200 to 300 different adolescents in one day cannot see everything," she warned.

Irish Independent

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