31st January 2013 - Survey shows rise in emotional trauma among primary school children, says IPPN

Primary school children are increasingly suffering from mental health issues, according to the results of a new survey by the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN), the professional body for primary school leaders.

In a survey of primary school principals, three out of five reported an increase in the incidence of emotional disturbance while four out of five said attention disorders were becoming more prevalent among school children.

Just over half of primary school leaders reported increasing evidence of family trauma while one in five said the incidence of depression among primary school children was rising.

Just over one-fifth of principals who responded to the survey said violent behaviour among primary school children was on the rise.

Almost 650 primary school principals responded to the survey.

The figures come as the Government today [Thursday] publishes new national guidelines on promoting positive mental health and suicide prevention in post-primary schools.

Seán Cottrell, IPPN Director, said the survey shows that the problem is not confined to second-level schools.

‘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. Public speaking, drama and group work have been shown to help build children’s self-esteem and develop skills that have very positive knock-on implications for later life. In the education sector, the process of building emotional wellbeing among children must begin when they are in junior infants,’ said Mr Cottrell.

He said 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,’ said Mr Cottrell.



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