Minister for Mental Health and Older People Helen McEntee has announced a new scheme which will see “preventative” mental health services being rolled out in secondary schools across the country.

Minister McEntee says that the new scheme will involve Junior Cert students having to complete 300 hours of this particular wellbeing class.

Minister McEntee stressed that the budget of €853 million for mental health services is one of the largest budgets for mental health than ever before.

Speaking to The Irish Sun, Minister McEntee says; “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.”

“But I think we (must) actually start tackling what the problem is and looking at a preventative measure — how we can actually keep young people well instead of treating them when things go wrong.”

“Junior Cert young people will have to do 300 hours of this particular class. We have divided it into three age groups — so from 0-12, 13-18 and 19-25.

“Obviously the zero to 12 will be looking at the primary school level and what it is we can do to help them maintain their own well-being but also so they can identify if they’re experiencing a problem. 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.

“I think maybe because I’ve been through something with Dad people think I can better relate but with suicide everyone is different. I think because I’m younger I can better relate anyway.”

Minister McEntee lost her father to suicide in December 2012 when he was aged 56.

She added; “It’s important young people know that while celebs like Kim Kardashian are great and all, they have personal trainers and stylists looking after them — and our young people need to be happy with who they are as people.”