Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Department of Education and Skills
75. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills when the 300 hours of mental health classes to be provided to students in schools will commence, as announced by the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People on 3 December 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1901/17]
The Department of Education and Skills is introducing a new Wellbeing programme for schools which forms part of the new Framework for Junior Cycle. It will be introduced to first year students from September 2017. Wellbeing is not just about mental health. It is about enhancing the physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing of students. Therefore, the area of learning will include Physical Education (PE), Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE). Schools can include other areas in their provision for wellbeing, such as guidance.
Guidelines on Wellbeing in Junior Cycle have been developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and will be published shortly. Schools will use the guidelines in formulating their individual Wellbeing programmes from September. Up to 400 hours will be available for learning in the area of Wellbeing over the Junior Cycle period, beginning with a minimum of 300 hours of timetabled engagement in 2017/18 and moving to the full complement of time as the new Junior Cycle is fully implemented in schools.
Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Deputy Helen McEntee, has established the National Taskforce on Youth Mental Health which will provide national leadership around youth mental health and wellbeing issues.
Other supports available to schools in the area of student wellbeing are the Wellbeing in Post-primary Schools Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention (2013) and Wellbeing in Primary Schools Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion (2015). They provide a Framework for schools to present, in an integrated way, the existing elements of good practice to promote positive mental health and direct them to new practices as appropriate.
The curriculum at primary and senior cycle level also includes topics relating to student wellbeing. The Social, Personal and Health Education curriculum provides particular opportunities to foster the personal development, health and wellbeing of the individual child.