Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and the CEO of the Apprenticeship Council Pat O’Doherty have today (Friday) launched a new initiative aimed at encouraging apprentices to talk more openly about their mental health.

The Department of Further and Higher Education has ambitious plans to increase the number of apprentices in Ireland over the next ten years and the apprenticeship programme is continuing to develop.

The initiative aims to create platforms for the apprenticeship community to share their mental health stories and experiences

Minister Harris said: “In launching Mental Health Aware – R U OK? we are inviting apprentices from all walks of life, including some of Ireland’s most successful CEOs who are themselves former apprentices, to get involved.  In the last 15 months, Ireland has witnessed significant disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in response, heroic examples of communities coming together.

“While we navigate our way out of the crisis we need to continue to help and support each other, and to ensure that new generations of talent are equipped to thrive and grow. Fresh ideas and strategies are essential to maintain mental health awareness and resilience.”

Resources to support conversations around the question R U OK? have been developed in partnership with apprentices and former apprentices. Aiming to provide positivity and insight and to build resilience, these resources offer simple advice on good mental health practice with clear signposting for those who want further guidance or support.

R U OK? is supported by employers and bodies including the CIF, Designer Group, ESB Networks, the Union of Students in Ireland, HEA, National College of Ireland, ETBI, Education and Training Boards, THEA, Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities.

Welcoming the initiative, Apprenticeship Council Chairman and CEO of ESB Pat O’Doherty said: “This is a great opportunity for the learning community of apprentices, former apprentices, employers and educators to bring their shared experiences together, creating a unique environment of solidarity, understanding and mutual support to improve mental health awareness. Today’s launch includes a call for more people to share their mental health stories, encouraging apprentices and all in the workplace to talk more openly about their mental health.”

Speaking about the initiative, Mary-Liz Trant on behalf of SOLAS said:  “R U OK? is about looking forward and creating a future of work that is more open, more supportive, more community-based. The initiative will feature digital, video and audio materials created in partnership with current and past apprentices, stories that resonate with the entire 40,000-strong apprenticeship community. R U OK? includes a free, anonymous 24/7 text service and is supported by CIF and the Lighthouse Club who are making their excellent mental health app available to all.”

Further information is available at