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23rd Oct 2022

Mental Health Counsellor discusses the struggles young people are facing

“It’s almost like a mental health obstacle course out there at the moment.”

Mental health in young people is an issue that people are becoming increasingly more aware of over the last number of years, but the struggles to access supports is a world away.

According to VIGO Health, young people have agreed that prioritising their mental health is of significant importance to them, and gaining access to a service where they could message a mental health professional in certain circumstances would be something they look for.

In 2021, a survey by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) found that almost three in four (74.4%) young adults (those aged 18 – 34) believed that the COVID-19 pandemic had negatively affected their mental health, with many now struggling in the aftermath of multiple lockdowns.

Ciara Hiliard, a mental health counsellor, spoke to Her about the issues still faced by young people seeking services and the impact the pandemic had on their mental health.

She said: “I would definitely have noticed an increase in the type of service young people have been looking for. I wouldn’t necessarily notice a massive increase in the people coming to me, but I would notice a lot more people are looking for an online solution as opposed to coming into the clinic.

“I think mental health generally in young people is struggling at the moment and I think Covid is one of the factors that has added to that, I would definitely say that there’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment. The cost of living crisis is really relevant for young people, the energy crisis, people struggling to find housing, even the climate change crisis, I feel like that and Covid have really added to the struggles that young people are presenting with.

“It’s almost like a mental health obstacle course out there at the moment.”

Speaking about the stigma around mental health in recent years, Ciara believes we are going in the right direction but a lot more action needs to be taken on the Government’s side.

“I think the stigma that comes with mental health has really decreased, I suppose it is because it is very much talked about and social media has played a huge part in that, that people feel free to talk about mental health struggles in a way they wouldn’t have done in the past,” she said.

“People just didn’t want to talk about it because they felt very much judged by society and I don’t think that judgement exists in the same way anymore.

“In terms of what can the Government do or what can the HSE do, what I would say there is that I think mental health very much needs to be put front and centre in the planning for all health services. It’s very much at the front of things and we can see that and the HSE need to look at that from that perspective, they’re seeing people who have a huge increase in eating disorders, people being hospitalised because of self harming. If mental health was looked after from a much earlier stage, it can have an impact on what ultimately arrives into the hospital.”