The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) has recommended that Budget 2018 restore the last 200 out of the 600 guidance counselling posts lost to secondary schools in 2012.
The council wants €12.6m extra invested next year to fund the jobs, in addition to 400 posts already being restored when schools re-open this month.
The NYCI pre-budget submission also urges the Government to spend €20m bringing child and adolescent mental health service staffing up to levels proposed in national mental health policies.
Council deputy director James Doorley said it is critical that staff and resources are available to help young people with mental health difficulties when they need them, given that the population aged 10 to 24 is set to rise by 1m by 2025. He said while there had been some welcome initiatives to tackle mental health problems, the issue “still looms large in the lives of Irish young people”.
“While the overall number of people dying by suicide has declined, for example, there has been an increase among young men,” said Mr Doorley.
“And of particular concern is the fact that the suicide rate for young people aged 15 to 19 here in Ireland is fourth-highest in the EU.”
In Budget 2017, a commitment was given to allocate extra teaching posts to second-level schools to restore most of those lost when the pupil-teacher ratio was effectively increased five years ago by the ending of the provision of a full-time guidance counsellor for every 500 students. Many counsellors, as a result, were required to spend some or all of their timetabled hours teaching, instead supporting students.
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