Vulnerable children and mental health supports

Pilot scheme for primary schools is needed now more than ever

Sir, – The damning interim findings of the Mental Health Commission on the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (Camhs), as outlined in The Irish Times, come as no surprise to teachers in primary and special schools (Kitty Holland, “Camhs left more than 100 children without care for up to two years, report finds”, News, January 12th).

At the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation’s annual congress last Easter, members expressed deep frustration regarding the inability of vulnerable children to access appropriate mental health supports in a timely manner. Subsequently in our budget campaign we called for a pilot scheme to deliver counselling services at primary school level and were delighted that our call was heard. We firmly believe that the learning from such a pilot scheme can hugely influence future provision for primary school children who experience mental health challenges.

Four months after the budget was announced, we are concerned that Government has not clarified how the €5 million allocated will be spent. It is clear from this week’s interim report highlighting long waiting lists, the lack of emergency Camhs services, the dearth of inter-agency work and the failure to provide child-centred care that the pilot scheme for primary schools is needed now more than ever.

We have promoted a multidisciplinary approach based on the best international practice to agencies within the Department of Education. We believe that trialling these at primary school level can pave the way for a much more holistic support system for the thousands of children routinely failed, as found by the Inspector of Mental Health Services. We can and must do better for our most vulnerable children. – Yours, etc,



General Secretary,

Irish National

Teachers’ Organisation,

Dublin 1.