Children aged four to six have mental health issues, says FF TD

James Browne claims social media contributing hugely to their difficulties

Fianna Fáil TD James Brown said increasingly teachers  were meeting  children who had nothing physically or intellectually wrong with them but who were presenting with speech, language and social developmental issues. Photograph: Getty Images

Fianna Fáil TD James Brown said increasingly teachers were meeting children who had nothing physically or intellectually wrong with them but who were presenting with speech, language and social developmental issues. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Children as young as between four and six years are presenting with anxiety, stress and other mental health issues, Fianna Fáil TD James Browne has claimed.

“Social media is no doubt playing a huge part in this,’’ he said. “They are becoming aware and exposed to psychologically damaging information at a shockingly young age.”

He asked Minister for Education Richard Bruton what he was doing about it in the Dáil on Thursday.

Mr Bruton said as part of the confidence and supply agreement the Government had restored 500 of the 600 guidance counsellors who were in schools. The National Educational Psychological Service had been expanded and a well-being programme for children introduced last September.

“That seeks to ensure the schools will have the policies, the curricular content, the relationship-building and referral mechanisms in place to ensure children who might be experiencing difficulty will have support in the school and the capacity for referral to appropriate services elsewhere,’’ said Mr Bruton.

He said there were now good-practice guidelines set out, and schools were very enthusiastically adopting them.

Mr Browne said increasingly teachers and principals were meeting young children who had nothing physically or intellectually wrong with them but who were presenting with speech, language and social developmental issues.

He said there should be an increase in the number of release days for school principals to allow them attend mental health training.

Mr Bruton said his department would look at increased release days, adding a pilot project would be initiated this year to see if a better approach could be delivered on speech and language delivery.