Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says the mental health of third level students should be prioritised this year given the uncertainty and far reaching changes brought about by coronavirus.  

He commented, “Every age group has been affected by coronavirus. Many young people feel that life is on pause and they will miss the traditional college experience that their predecessors have had. Remote learning and completing course work away from the college campus brings its own difficulties.  

“To address the mental health challenges that students attending third level will face funding has been provided by Government to implement greater supports. This funding totals €5m. This funding will be used to recruit additional Counsellors and Assistant Psychologists in Higher Education settings.  

“There is an onus on Further and Higher-Level Education institutions to provide clarity to students in relation to on campus and remotely learning schedules for the academic year ahead. So far, this clarity has been lacking overall and causing difficulties for students in terms of accommodation and other plans they will need to make this year.  

“We take pride in having an educated workforce. It is one of our drivers in attracting so many multinational businesses into the State. During this public health crisis, it is vitally important our next generation is supported. The funding and increase in mental health supports and services in Higher Education will go some way in supporting our students,” concluded Deputy Smith.