If there was ever a measure to show that this country is moving forward, it's this.
The Irish government has just announced plans to introduce mental health classes for pre-Junior Cert students in Irish secondary schools.
Junior Minister Helen McEntee was the one to make the historic announcement in an interview with The Irish Sun.
McEntee, who lost her own father to suicide four years ago, pushed for the classes, as suicide rates grow in Ireland. She wants students to complete at least 300 hours of a health and well-being programme in their teens.
The Minister also explained how her ultimate end-goal in government is achieving 24/7 services for people in need.
We now have a budget of €853million for mental health. I know there was talk that we have seen a reduction of funding but we have not. We now have one of the biggest budgets for mental health than ever before.
Our priority is seven days a week, which would then hopefully be 24/7. I can’t give you a month or a year but the priority is to get our services to that stage as quickly as possible. We need to walk before we can run. There are a lot of places that already have that service but it’s not available across the country. That is the priority.
What we need to start focusing on in particular is the whole area of prevention. Up until now our focus has rightly been on services and we need to continue to improve our services both in an acute setting and within the community.
McEntee feels it is imperative to normalise conversations around mental health and emotional wellbeing, especially for the younger generations of this country - who have a habit of being closed off.
For younger people I think it is a big thing that they’re not realising they have a problem. If they feel stressed, anxious or sad or upset we need to try and normalise talking about that.
“The task force is currently doing its work so without predicting what it is they decide to do, I know it will be a priority for them.