AS Stormont Ministers warn us to stay indoors once more. The fear and uncertainty of what the future will hold has weighed heavy on the shoulders of young people right across Fermanagh for some time now.
While restrictions have minimised everyday trade and travel, internet activity has surged among young people, with everyday access to online hate, social pressures and negative news stories.
This week, local counsellor and psychotherapist Niall Greene has urged young people to ‘reach out and talk to one another’ as he tells the Herald there’s so much young people can do to manage their mental health.
“It is unsurprising that young people are increasingly struggling with mental health issues when we consider the stress they are under, such as school expectations as well as the pressure that they are bombarded with via social media.
“There is constant pressure to self promote and to create the illusion of having the perfect life, a flawless body and own all the latest brands.
“This causes a lot of anxiety and because perfection is unattainable we have a lot of young people who feel not good enough and extremely unhappy within themselves.
“Young people are especially prone to feelings of loneliness, hopelessness and rejection as a result of these pressures.
When asked what reassurance he would give to a young person who is at home thinking, ‘Why do I feel this?’ or believes there is no escape, Niall urged them to ‘reach out and talk to someone’.
He said, “I know it sometimes feels like there is no way out of the pain and darkness but there is help out there but people often can’t help you if you don’t ask for help.
“Although it can feel that there is no end to the stress that is being experienced, nothing is permanent, however unless you reach out things cannot be sorted.
“Try and identify a safe person that will understand and help get you the support you need.”
There has no doubt been a major shift in mental health awareness and suicide prevention over the last number of years.
When asked what his advice would be to parents who may be fearful of starting a conversation around mental health with their young people, Niall said, “Reach out to someone who can support you with these conversations.
“Conversations can be tough and what is impacting young people today may be completely alien to parents and sometimes not something that we even understand.
“Know your limits and do not sit in silence for fear of getting it wrong or judgement, we need to be more supportive. It is like the old saying, it takes a village to rear a child.”
Speaking on possible warning signs that your child, friend, relative or partner might be experiencing if overwhelmed, Niall said, “There are signs like changes in behaviour, eating habits, becoming more irritable, anxious and withdrawn or perhaps more angry and explosive.
“If there has been a recent loss of friend or family member be especially mindful and if there is any talk about, making plans, or threatening of suicide, to get help immediately.
“If you think someone is considering ending their life ask the question, ‘Are you thinking of killing yourself?’ and reassure the person that you care for them and want to get them help and that help is available.
If you or someone you know are having a difficult time, you can get in touch with Niall Greene himself or the Samaritans helpline about anything that’s troubling you, no matter how large or small the issue feels. Call the Samaritans helpline for free one-to-one advice 24 hours a day on 116 123.
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