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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 21 March, 2019
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Teen death sparks calls for schools to start teaching children about their mental health

The body of a 15-year-old girl was found in south Dublin yesterday.

Updated 8.47am

SCHOOL CURRICULUMS NEED A “built-in system” of mental health education, the founder of Console has said.

Paul Kelly said that Irish schools need more programmes where children are taught about, and how to handle, mental health issues.

He said that the ‘fragmented’ and ‘overstretched’ state of services means that, in some cases, children might not know who to turn to. There may also be delays in seeking professional help.

Kelly told TheJournal.ie:

Young people need to realise that it’s quite normal to face difficulties, and that, above all, there’s hope. They should always feel comfortable talking them through.

“Better education would mean we can better identify who is at risk, and to be able to ensure they can get the support they need.”

Kelly noted that in many schools, cuts have affected the role of the guidance counsellor, who previously would have acted as a point of contact for children facing issues:

“Those roles have been diminished. Cutbacks have badly affected these people on the front-line who would acted as a point-of-contact for children seeking help.”

He was speaking after the body of a 15-year-old girl was found in south Dublin yesterday. The incident is being treated by gardaí as a personal tragedy.

There has been contact between the school close to where she was found, Cabinteely Community School, and the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) in order to provide psychological services to anyone affected.

“Our sympathies go out to the whole family, the school, the parents,” Kelly said, “This can be hugely traumatising for a school community.”

Local Fianna Fáil councillor Jennifer Cuffe echoed Kelly’s call for increased support for school guidance counsellors, and said that improving services nationally needs to be made a priority.

“It’s not high on the agenda,” she said. “We have to be able to help people in difficult situations and to ensure that the stigma behind mental health is removed.”

Helplines

  • Console 1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Aware 1890 303 302 (depression anxiety)

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie - (suicide, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

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Nicky Ryan

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