Laois students have spoken about their personal experiences of depression and suicide, as they prepare to tackle stress felt among the county’s students.
Exam pressure is the leading cause of stress for students, say Laois Comhairle na nÓg, who are making it their prime focus for their annual project.
Four students from the group addressed Laois County Council last week to outline the level of stress that students are under.
CBS Student Mark McCormack recommends visiting the online counselling service www.7cups.com
“It is a website if you’re feeling down. There are psychologists there to listen. When most of us feel stressed, often it is when we are on our own. Personally I have used it in the past. To promote it would be excellent,” he said.
Vice Chairman Cian McGearailt also from CBS, spoke about suicide.
“Suicide is related to exam stress. I found this in a Junior Cert project I did on mental health for young men. A cousin of mine was a victim, because of the Leaving Cert. To think it has that effect, on young men or girls, is terrible,” he said.
Niamh Bakker from Scoil Chriost Ri gave statistics of the stress students feel.
“At our Dáil na nÓg, 200 students voted. 70 percent of students in 3rd, 5th and 6th year are feeling stressed due to exams. We also see it in teachers who are under pressure to get good results. 60 percent of students feel there is too much emphasis on exams, and they want more active learning to be implemented,” she said.
She said they agreed that the least effective teaching method is when a teacher mostly talks from a book. “We aim to reduce stress levels with our project,” she said.
Mark outlined their plans.
“We will do a survey, and we will create an app, and hold workshops during the year, on mindfulness and de-stressing and tackling depression. We can also go to local schools to do the workshops,” he said.
Laois Comhairle also intend to widen their social media presence in 2017, with a show of hands at the council meeting showing that not one Laois councillors is connected with them online.
The group also aims to produce videos on practical skills. Aoife Hanniffy from Scoil Chriost Ri explained.
“At our AGM, the biggest issue reported by students was the lack of practical skills taught in school, like home budgeting, cooking, and coping with stress,” she said.
There is a Chomhairle na nÓg in every local authority, 34 in Ireland. The Laois group has made submissions on the Public Realm Strategy, and County Development Plan.
“Our aim is to be involved with consultations. If there is something you want to raise, ask them as you would ask retirement groups,” the co-ordinator Georgina Ireland asked the council.