The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland has said that austerity measures, including a ban on school promotions, is damaging the social development of young people.
The union says a survey of its members shows that the current moratorium on the filling of school middle-management posts is undermining student pastoral care and mental health supports.
In a survey of 1,700 members, two thirds said the areas most affected by this measure were those of school planning and school pastoral care systems.
Among those who responded to the survey were around 90 school principals or deputy principals.
Four out of five school principals surveyed said the ban had undermined pastoral care structures.
More than 40% of principals said Department of Education guidelines on student mental health were not being adequately implemented in their schools.
The lifting of the moratorium on promotional posts is one of several demands that are up for debate when ASTI members meet for their annual convention in Cork next week.
The ASTI says secondary schools have lost an average of six middle-management posts, known as posts of responsibility, since 2009.
These posts include year heads and class tutors, whose responsibilities typically incorporate student attendance, student engagement and monitoring students at risk.