MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES amongst primary school children is on the rise.
According to a survey by the Irish Primary Principals’ Network, three out of five primary school principals said they noticed an increase in emotional disturbance of children while four out of five said attention disorders were becoming more prevalent.
Just over half of principals reported increasing evidence of family trauma while one in five said the incidence of depression among primary school children was rising.
More than one-fifth of the 650 principals who responded to the survey said violent behaviour among primary school children could also be seen more and more.
The figures come as the Government today publishes new national guidelines on promoting positive mental health and suicide prevention in post-primary schools.
However, Seán Cottrell, IPPN Director, said this survey shows that the problem is not confined to second-level schools and more needs to be done for children at primary level:
The process of building emotional wellbeing among children must begin when they are in junior infants.
He added that bullying is a significant mental health challenge in schools:
Schools must be adequately resourced and supported in delivering anti-bullying strategies locally, including the provision of adequate continuous professional development for teachers and principals.
To help combat the issue, IPPN has called for greater allocation of curriculum time for social, personal and health education to build children’s confidence and communications skills which are essential in helping them to deal with mental health issues.