Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills

Reopening of Schools, Cork Life Centre, School Bullying and the Impact on Mental Health: Discussion.

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

That is absolutely understood and accepted.

I am afraid my next remark also relates to another Department. It ties into the review and the expenditure announcement the Minister made in her opening statement. It relates to the general emotional and therapeutic supports the committee has recommended in its report to her, which she has acknowledged. One of the points made to me during my ring-around of schools in September, which I always do, was that we should figure out how the Department could further the committee’s ambition to provide pooled support to schools in terms of professionals to endeavour to attend to students who are going through difficult times. My reference to other Departments relates to child and adult mental health services, CAMHS, and how interlinked everything is.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire, with whom I worked on the Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs during the term of the previous Dáil, and I will be very much aware that there is a great disparity between what is required and what is available, including what is available in terms of consistent support. I appreciate the matter does not concern the Department of Education. However, I ask that the relevant officials from the Departments of Health and Education come together to try to figure out how to improve the supports being offered to children. The Minister is a constituency Deputy, just like me. Deputy Jim O’Callaghan and all the other members will have stories about the lack of support offered by CAMHS and the lack consistency. When the service is available, it is fantastic, but gaining access to it is a disaster. That is why the committee made the recommendation on additional emotional and therapeutic supports. We already recognise that there is a shortfall. Is it possible for the Minister, when considering the implementation of the recommendation, to talk to the HSE and relevant officials and endeavour to improve the overall supports available to students at both primary and secondary levels?

I am way over time. I am in the Chair so I do not want to take advantage. I ask the Minister and Minister of State to comment on the matter in general, as opposed to commenting on what I have put on the record.


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