Emotional Wellbeing must be at the heart of all School Communities, state School Principals

Emotional Wellbeing must be at the heart of all School Communities, state School Principals
With 20% of primary school children showing symptoms of anxiety, primary principals attending the annual conference of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) in the Citywest Convention Centre, will hear that a Forum has been established to make emotional wellbeing a priority in our education system.
Angela Lynch, IPPN Principal Advice Manager, will tell 1,100 primary principals that schools must take proactive action to develop emotional resilience in our children or risk facing a huge increase of mental health related issues in the future. 
Ms. Lynch will tell attendees that over 98% of schools are already active in this area through friendship and positivity weeks, anti-bullying initiatives and professional development for staff and school communities. It is hoped that this new culture will permeate all areas of the school, from staff to children and beyond to the wider school community.
A recent IPPN survey of membership reveals that family issues, neglect, bullying and depression/anxiety are proving to be the greatest challenges faced by schools. The same survey indicates that 3 in every 4 principals do not feel sufficiently trained to deal adequately with the problems as they arise.
Ms. Lynch states, ‘Any one of us who has struggled with our own emotional wellbeing, have journeyed with a family member or friend through a dark place, watched a girl in fourth class struggling with anxiety, the boy in sixth class who self harms or the children emotionally affected by the economic circumstances of their lives, know that we cannot wait’.
Ms. Lynch will call for a National Plan for Emotional Wellbeing. She will also encourage schools to adopt emotional wellbeing as part of a School Improvement Plan. She will also highlight the importance of the recruitment process in the Colleges of Education and the necessity to recruit future teachers possessing empathy and strong inter-personal skills.
‘The responsibility that teachers bear for their own ongoing personal and professional development has to be established as a prerequisite for entering the profession’, she states.

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