Lack of student mental health supports

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A study has found that austerity measures on schools middle-management posts are undermining student mental health support systems.

The survey asked 1,749 teachers and principals commissioned by the ASTI and 82% of principals state that the moratorium on middle-management posts has undermined pastoral care structures. Shockingly 40% of principals report that Department of Education guidelines on student mental health are not adequately implemented in their schools.

It shows that school have lost around 6 middle-management posts on average since 2009. These posts included Year Heads and Class Tutors whose responsibilities were usually keeping student attendance, student engagement and monitor students at risk.

The research conducted this Febuary 2016, has shown that teachers workloads have increased across a lot of areas. 78% of teachers have said they were given more administrative duties compared to last year. These extra duties and after school meetings are the main cause for the dissatisfaction in their job.

With it being recorded at a staggering 90% of second-level teahcers saying helping young people is one of the key areas of statisfaction in their job. So, it doesn’t make sense to decrease the mental health support for the students.

However, job satisfaction levels are relatively low. 55% of those surveyed say they are “very” or “quite” satisfied with their job, compared to 77% in 2009.

After these survey findings were released the ASTI President, Máire G. Ní Chiarba commented, “The research is unequivocal. Pastoral care structures have been substantially undermined by the moratorium. In addition, increased workload is reducing the amount of time teachers have for vital non-teaching work including supporting students with difficulties.”

“The wellbeing of young people is a major public health concern which is widely reported in the media. However, it is not a priority when it comes to education policy. Supporting students’ wellbeing and mental health requires more than procedures and guidelines, it requires adequate ‘human’ resources at school level. The very resources which students need to support their wellbeing have been greatly diminished in schools”.

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