We have been living through unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. This resulted in changes and challenges for the Leaving Certificate students of 2021.
People have an inbuilt capacity to adapt. This is what is at the heart of resilience. Most of us have weathered this storm and emerged stronger and with new skills. But for some of us, adapting and managing the challenges that have come our way has been hard. We have taken steps to support our wellbeing during this time. Now as the date for the issuing of the exam/ SEC-Accredited Grades results and also the CAO offers approaches, we once again need to focus on supporting our wellbeing.
Tips to managing your wellbeing at this time
There are steps that you can take to support your wellbeing during this time. It will help to:
Include some physical activity into your day. The government campaign In This Together
has lots of great suggestions on physical activity.
Social connection is very important at this time. In addition to meeting friends, use technology to stay in touch. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed talk to your family and friends or a member of the school staff about your feelings. Sharing thoughts or worries with others really does help. Ask for support from someone you trust.
If you think you need additional help there are also lots of support services for young people that provide advice and support via text, email and online, see Mental Health and Wellbeing Information Leaflet.
It is also important to be able to provide support to others if you can.
Stay Positive and Calm
Notice your feelings. Over the next few weeks you may have lots of different. You may feel stressed, anxious, sad, afraid, fed up, angry, frustrated or even numb. You may feel nothing at all, that’s ok too. These are all normal and healthy reactions. If your feelings and reactions seem different from those of your friends, that’s ok. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to feel. The following information can help to support you if you experience any difficulty.
Identify what it is that helps you to relax. It is different for everybody but it is important to include time to relax each day. It might involve being active or it might involve winding down. It might also include doing some meditation, mindfulness or yoga. Other ideas on how to relax can be found NEPS techniques
Do something you enjoy or try something creative every day. Think about things that make you feel good, then make it happen – like listening to music, going for walks, doing an exercise routine, writing, drawing, cooking or watching a funny movie. Remember laughter is good medicine!
Sleep is good for our health and wellbeing so it’s important to get plenty of sleep - eight to twelve hours is recommended. Try to get to bed at the same time every night. Leaving the phone, laptop and tablet outside the bedroom will help to get a better night’s sleep. More information on what will help is here.
It is also important to eat healthily and to drink lots of water. See here
for useful information.
Tips and Techniques to improve wellbeing
Our sense of wellbeing can be improved by taking time to reflect on some of the following:
What positive/healthy experiences can I plan to do today (e.g. reading, music, food, games, exercise, meditation, learning etc.)
What can I be grateful for today? (I am grateful for …. list 3 things)
What small act of kindness can I do for someone else today?
How can I help myself to take a moment of calm?
What gives me enjoyment and makes me laugh?
How can I use one or more of my strengths today?
Who can I connect with today (over the telephone, online, in reality)?
In what way can I make a small positive difference to someone else?
How can I show interest in another person or their work/hobbies?
What goals can I set for today?
What goals no matter how small can I achieve today?
What challenge can I take on today?
What will I do?
There are a number of supports available to you both in school and outside of school. You can contact your school if you have any general queries or would like to discuss your options with the Guidance Counsellor.
There are lots of supports for young people outside of school. The support offered by the agencies listed below, and at this link Mental Health and Wellbeing Information Leaflet
are for students who are feeling worried or anxious about various issues.
Supports for Young People
Ireland's 24-hour national listening service for young people up to the age of 18
Barnardos provide a national telephone support service for parents, in response to the challenges they are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Freephone 1800 910 123 from 10am to 2pm, Monday to Friday.
Barnardos also provide a children's bereavement helpline service, for members of the public seeking information and support in relation to bereavement. Telephone 01 473 2110 from 10am to 12pm, Monday to Thursday.
SpunOut.ie provides a wide range of articles and information for young people, on many different topics, including mental health.
text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280 to chat to a trained volunteer (standard message rates may apply)
Pieta provides free therapy to those engaging in self-harm, with suicidal ideation, or bereaved by suicide.
visit pieta.ie for more information
call free on 1800 247 247
text help to 51444
More online supports
website provides information and signposting on all mental health supports and services that are available nationally and locally provided by the HSE and its funded partners. You can also call the freephone YourMentalHealth Information Line to find supports and services any time, day or night: 1800 111 888.
Online counselling supports:
provides a 3 tiered approach to supporting mental well-being - self-help, support groups and professional support. Online services include counselling and support groups
provides access to counselling and psychotherapy, face to face and online
The support offered by various agencies listed above are for individuals who are feeling worried or anxious about various issues.
For students who have complex mental health needs, access to help continues to be through your GP or health centre or hospital emergency services as detailed below:
GP and health centres
A GP can offer support for anyone in crisis. If possible, ask someone to come along with you.
A new mental health messaging support service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It provides in-the-moment anonymous support when you need it most.
This service aims to connect you with a trained volunteer in less than 5 minutes. They will listen to you and help you think more clearly, enabling you to know that you can take the next step to feeling better.