Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne is warning that the continued uncertainty and speculation surrounding the Leaving Cert is leading to increased anxiety and mental health issues for students.

Deputy Browne explained, “The Leaving Cert is a challenging time for students in ordinary times, however the situation has been exacerbated and heightened given the unprecedented situation we are all facing in containing the Coronavirus.

“I fully appreciate that the public health emergency is the main priority at this time, but we will be facing very serious mental health repercussions unless the government and the Education Minister in particular begins to address the very real concerns of students, teachers and parents.

“Although the Minister announced that the Leaving Cert exams would be going ahead later in the summer, he failed to give any further details, thereby almost compounding the situation. Students have so many questions about the decision and its implications for their own routines. They are unable to work to any deadlines without a definitive date, and students who have practicals and coursework as part of their exams are worried about getting access to their materials, which are kept in school.

“The constant drip feed of information and contradictory stories in the media are only adding to the stress of the year. Students simply don’t know what’s going on and that is incredibly unfair.

“Minister McHugh has failed to show leadership during this crisis and students are paying the price. I believe the longer this goes on the worse the mental health of Leaving Cert students will become. The Minister needs to firm up the details for the exams and announce them to bring clarity to the situation for students, their families and their teachers.

“The current information vacuum is incredibly damaging and will lead to bigger problems later in the year”.