Vulnerable children and young people should not be paying the price for budgetary uncertainty, says Egan

Alliance Education Spokesperson Connie Egan MLA has spoken of her deep disappointment at the news that the Healthy Happy Minds programme is at risk of being scrapped in light of significant budget cuts within the Department of Education.

Education Connie Egan

The programme, launched in November 2021, supports therapeutic and counselling services in primary schools and provides primary school children with education about coping skills and early interventions around poor mental health.


The North Down MLA has said: “Healthy Happy Minds is a fantastic and much-needed programme offering vital support to our most vulnerable children and young people. It’s a sorry state of affairs that this scheme is now being put at risk due to budget cuts.


“Alliance have long called for counselling services in primary schools, and we strongly believe this is the most effective way to support those children who are in the greatest need.


“With Healthy Happy Minds putting such an emphasis on early intervention, they are making an immediate difference to the mental health of our children and young people, and are in turn improving their quality of life and general life chances going forward.


“With that in mind, the scheme also then has the potential to play an important role in saving public money which would otherwise be spent on more extensive interventions in adulthood.


“Education services in Northern Ireland have been starved of adequate funding for many years and we are already in a situation where spending on pupils in Northern Ireland is lower than any other part of the UK. Our most vulnerable children and young people should not be the casualties of budgetary uncertainty and cuts.


"I have raised the issue of funding for Healthy Happy Minds consistently and robustly with both the Department of Education and the Education Authority on several occasions.


“Across all sectors, the consequences of not having a devolved government are increasingly clear. We urgently need to see the restoration of a functioning Executive and Assembly in order to see decisive action taken in relation to schemes such as this.”