Wednesday, 2 May 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
78. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Science if any research has been carried out into providing a self-help grief support programme for pupils who have suffered bereavement through the death of a parent, close relative or friend or loss through the separation or divorce of parents or otherwise in schools; if he recognises the merit of incorporating this approach into teacher training programmes and school timetables; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12106/01]
93. Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will introduce school based programmes for focusing on assisting schools in the aftermath of the suicide of a pupil or staff member. [12205/01]
129. Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will establish support systems to assist, advise and support senior school staff to deal with the postvention process of suicide of a staff member or pupil. [12206/01]
The National Educational Psychological Service is the executive agency of my Department with devolved responsibility for the provision of educational psychological services to primary and post-primary schools.
NEPS has a general remit to promote mental health in schools. In this context psychologists may assist schools in drafting a school policy on responding to traumatic incidents within the framework of school development planning. While all schools do not yet have access to NEPS, in cases of traumatic incidents NEPS responds to all requests for help.
NEPS, in partnership with the school and local community services, also has a role to play when a school experiences a tragic event. This can include participation in the assessment of the significance and impact of the event and assistance to the staff in drawing up a plan of action. The  psychologists may also offer to meet staff and parents and may engage in the short-term counselling of students. NEPS psychologists act in collaboration with the health boards, especially over the arrangement of long-term support for particular individuals.
An employee assistance service is also available for primary and post-primary teachers and school management in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. Employee assistance officers who have specific training in dealing with traumatic incidents are available to assist teachers and schools in such circumstances. This service is currently operating on an interim basis until September 2002. Decisions on the further development and expansion of this service beyond September 2002 will be made in the light of a review and evaluation of the interim scheme.
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