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Guidelines on promoting positive mental health in primary schools published

2nd February 2015 | News

The Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD, and Minister of State for Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch TD, have today launched Well-Being in Primary Schools – Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion.

Schools play a vital role in the promotion of positive mental health in children. Schools can also provide a safe and supportive environment for building life skills and resilience and a strong sense of connectedness to school. Listening to the voice of the child and fostering healthy relationships with peers, teachers and school staff are essential to children’s positive experience of school and their cognitive and emotional development.

The Guidelines, published by the Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), provide a practical framework for supporting schools in this challenging area and build on the existing good practice already in place in primary schools. They were developed in conjunction with the Health Service Executive.

Launching the guidelines, Minister O’Sullivan said: “I am very pleased to publish these Guidelines, which will provide practical guidance on how primary schools can promote positive mental health and well-being.  The mental health and well-being of our children is critical to success in school and life.

“Identifying and supporting children who may be vulnerable or at risk are key to successful positive mental health promotion and suicide prevention.

“I hope that these Guidelines will be of assistance to schools and the school community in supporting and responding to the mental health and well-being needs of our children. 

“Finally, I would like to thank all those who contributed to the production of these Guidelines.”

These guidelines set out the important role primary schools play in positive mental health promotion to enhance children’s life chances. Children with good school connectedness are less likely to experience subsequent mental health issues and are more likely to have good educational outcomes.

Speaking at the launch today, Minister Lynch added: “It is important to recognise that mental health and well-being are not the sole responsibility of schools. Parents and the wider school community have complementary roles each supporting the other. Fostering a sense of community and belonging in an integrated way is essential to best support the needs of children and staff in schools.

“Our two departments are also working together under the Healthy Ireland agenda to support everyone’s efforts to improve the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our children and young people as a priority.”

The National Director of the HSE’s Mental Health Division, Anne O’Connor, welcomed today’s publication, saying: “The guidelines provide a comprehensive and dynamic framework that supports primary schools in promoting mental health and well-being. The guidance supports the school community in creating a safe and supportive environment for children to talk about mental health and how they feel; to explore how to relate with one another; and to build healthy relationships.”

The Guidelines are for all members of the school community, boards of management and in-school management teams who play a central leadership role in mental health promotion. They will also be useful for parents’ associations, student councils, health and other personnel who are seeking an understanding of how to work in and with schools.

The National Office for Suicide Prevention have funded the publication of hard copies of the guidelines and these will issue to all primary schools, support services and relevant agency representatives in the coming weeks.


The guidelines are available on the Department’s website at

Post Primary guidelines were published in January 2013 and are available to download at

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