Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare South and Chairperson of the Oireachtas Education Committee Fiona O’Loughlin TD says the Government needs to put in place additional supports to promote wellbeing amongst students in primary and secondary schools.

Deputy O’Loughlin made the comments following the publication of a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which shows that Ireland has some of the highest levels of depression among students.

Deputy O’Loughlin said, “This report published by the OECD is worrying and shows that we need to do much more to promote positive mental health amongst students in Ireland. It’s shocking that Ireland has some of the highest rates of depression for students worldwide, particularly for those that leave school early or drop out of college.

“The Government clearly needs to work with schools to place a greater emphasis on promoting positive mental health amongst students. The time to do this is at primary and secondary level, young people should be equipped to deal with life challenges before they enter into adulthood.

“The report also indicates that depression rates are higher in Ireland for early school leavers or those that drop out of college as there often simply aren’t any decent career prospects for those that find themselves in this position. We need to recognise that further education is not for everyone, and there should be a strong focus on promoting vocational work where people can learn on the job. This is the traditional route that many older people took when entering the workforce and it has served them well down through the years.

“The Government also needs to tackle the pressing employment issues which are affecting young people in general. In particular, the inability for young people to gain permanent employment needs to be looked at alongside the problem of low hour’s contracts and poorer terms and conditions of employment,” concluded Deputy O’Loughlin.