Doctor warns of long-term effects of Covid 19 on young people

We know that the restrictions of recent months have been very difficult for young people whose social life is so important to them. Many young people have been absolute heroes, staying home, maintaining social distance when out, doing everything they can to protect those around them.

Now that things are opening up again we cannot afford to think that life is back to what it was before this all happened. We still need to be careful, to limit the number of people we are mixing with, to maintain social distancing, hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette and to wear face coverings in busy places.

Although the number of new cases of Coronavirus is now much lower we can see that many of those new cases are happening among young people. It can be difficult for us as parents to get our children to understand and accept the ongoing need for restrictions. Often young people see themselves as invincible, thinking either that they won’t get Covid or that if they do it won’t do them any harm. Here is an interview which was aired on Newstalk on 24th June which might help young adults to realise that Covid-19 is still a challenge and a threat to people – young and old – in Ireland.

A Dublin doctor is warning young people that they could be left with long-term effects if they contract COVID-19.

It comes after health officials warned that 76 of the 202 people diagnosed with the virus in the past two weeks were under the age of 35.

Sixteen of those cases involved children under 14-years-of-age.

On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Dublin GP Maitiú Ó Tuathail said all five of the patients he referred for testing yesterday were under 40-years-old.

He said increases in young people catching the virus are now “happening the world over.”

“They are the most social of all the groups so it stands to reason that we would see an increase in these numbers as lockdown has been, kind of, reversed,” he said.

He said the narrative that the virus only effects older people has led to younger people being too relaxed about guidelines on social distancing and face coverings.

“There has been a clear message throughout the pandemic that this is an illness that predominantly affects and kills people who are over the age of 65,” he said.

“Because that was the message that has gone out, those that are under 40 really feel like this is not a disease that affects them and what I am seeing in my practice is that that is not true.”

Post-viral fatigue syndrome

He said people under 40 are unlikely to end up in intensive care with the virus; however, they could face other long-term issues.

“I am seeing an increasing number of people that were 20 or 30 that got COVID-19 and were left with the effects of it,” he said.

“The most common one we are seeing at the moment is chronic fatigue. I have patients in their 20s and 30s that are now out of work for weeks with severe chronic fatigue because of COVID-19.

“So, it is not true that people under the age of 40 are completely immune. I am seeing people coming in with long-term effects from the virus.”

Loved ones

He said young people need to consider their older relatives when they are out and about.

“The real issue is that these people in their 20s and 30s have loved ones,” he said. “They have mothers, they have fathers and they are putting them at risk by the actions they are taking.

“There is a likelihood that you will spread the virus to a loved one who may end up in intensive care and may die and that is the message that needs to get out.”

Healthcare workers

Dr Ó Tuathail also said the INMO was not ‘far off the mark’ when it said Ireland had the world’s highest COVID-19 infection rate among healthcare workers.

“Anecdotally, I have had COVID-19, a lot of my colleagues who worked in hospitals have had COVID-19 and a disproportionally large number of nurses particularly in the nursing home sector had COVID-19

“We know in the nursing home sector, that was a mess. It was poorly managed there was an inadequate amount of PPE within the nursing home sector.”

 

Coping with grief in the time of Covid 19 – tips from Jigsaw

The Jigsaw website provides great well being and mental health support for young people and for their families. Sadly, some families are dealing with grief at the moment – because of Covid 19 or other causes –  and it can cause added stress when we can’t come together to support each other as we would have done in the past. The article below is reproduced from the Jigsaw website and you can access the original here https://jigsawonline.ie/young-people/grief-and-loss-in-exceptional-times/

Grief and loss in exceptional times – Jigsaw Online

During the past few months so much has changed in our world. Certain things continue – people get sick, people die, people die suddenly. And sadly, many people have died of Covid-19.

But, everything feels quite different now, when the usual rituals and coming together are no longer available to us. There is no right way to feel, or to grieve the loss of someone we love. However, there might be some things we can do to ease the pain and strangeness a little. Of course, they will be different for everyone and it’s about finding your own way.

Saying goodbye

This can be especially difficult when someone we love is in hospital or a nursing home, and we are not allowed to visit. If they are well enough to talk on the phone or Facetime, then this can be a helpful way to connect.

You may prefer to remember the person as they were when they were well, and that’s OK too. Try writing a letter to express what you would like to say or what you didn’t get to say. This can feel supportive whether your loved one reads it or not.

Managing the funeral or service

Funerals and services are very different now; only attended by a few people. If you’re not able to go the service, then stay in touch with friends and family who are attending virtually. Remember, you are not alone.

When attending via live-stream, try to watch with friends and family. If this is not possible, connect with someone afterwards either on the phone or text.

It’s also OK not to watch, or to step away half way through if you prefer. You could think about setting up or attending a virtual family gathering afterwards. Come together to remember your loved one, exchange photos or play music that reminds you of them.

Other ways to remember

Some people find it helpful to create a memory box, either on your own or with family and friends. Gather photographs, objects, items that remind you of your loved one. Decorate your box.

If you have a garden space or even a pot on a windowsill, planting some flowers or a tree is a lovely way to honour of them. Many of the garden centres are opening up now, but you can also buy online, or ask neighbours or friends to help.

“It can help to gently name and acknowledge the feelings without judgement”

Allow your feelings

You are likely to feel a whole rush of different feelings at this time. These can include things like:

  • feeling OK one moment and not the next
  • moving from sad to confused to angry to happy in a few minutes
  • feeling relief rather than grief
  • loneliness, or preferring the privacy and quiet time you have just now
  • physical feelings such as a heaviness in your chest or a churning in your stomach
  • maybe you don’t feel that much at all.

It can sometimes help to gently name and acknowledge the feelings, without judgement and without moving too deeply into them. When names don’t come easily for a feeling, make up a word that works. Bleurgh, fuzzy, sparkly, numb – whatever word or nonsense word that works for you. Try and allow your experience, no matter what it is.

Use your senses

If you are experiencing strong feelings and struggling with grief, using your senses can help to ground you. Sometimes it can be helpful to ground through your hands and feet.

Walk in the back garden or in your bedroom in your bare feet. Steal some playdoh from your younger sibling and roll it in your hands.

Gather together a ‘soothe box’. Put in an item for each sense – something soft like a cosy blanket or jumper, a smell you like, a picture that calms you, and some music that you like. Take time for you. Wrap yourself up, with your favourite hot drink and listen to music.

 >> Listen to Jigsaw clinician Leona talk through a grounding tool called ‘ACE’

Talk or don’t talk

Some days it might helpful to be connected in with others, and sometimes you might want to be alone. That’s OK. Just be careful of cutting yourself off completely. It can be good to find ways to connect with other people that don’t involve much talking. Watching movies or playing games together, either online or with people in your home.

Remember it’s OK to laugh and to have fun in moments, and that it’s actually quite healing. Talk to family and friends about your loved one who has died if that feels right. Writing down how you feel is good too, if you’re not ready to talk.

Take a look at ways to contact Jigsaw if you would prefer to talk to someone outside your network.

Do what helps

This is the time to do those things you enjoy and are able to do in your own home. For example:

  • use a creative outlet that you find supportive, like playing an instrument
  • play video games, or watch a favourite series or film
  • do your best to eat well and rest well, even if you don’t feel like it
  • being in nature can  be very healing, so do try to get outside.

You might find comfort in returning to your study/work routine. Or perhaps concentration is difficult so give yourself permission to do nothing. Just let things settle as they are with no judgement.

>> Get some ideas from young people and Jigsaw clinicians about self-care during covid-19

 

 

 

Restorative Practices Video launched by Foróige through Donegal ETB’s Peace IV funded Project

Foróige launched a new video tonight aimed at explaining the concept of restorative practices to young people and adults.

The project was completed as part of Donegal ETB’s Restorative Practices Project which successfully secured €200,000 of EU PEACE IV funding in 2018. It is supported by the European Union’s Peace IV Programme, managed for the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) by Donegal County Council. This project involves nineteen post-primary schools (ETB and non-ETB) and Youthreach (early school leaver) centres from across the county and Foróige.

Restorative practices provides an ethos for making, maintaining and repairing relationships and for fostering a sense of social responsibility and shared accountability. It understands that when harm is done to people and relationships, it creates obligations and liabilities and focuses on repairing the harm and making things right.

The video was created by young people with the support of a motion graphics designer and Foróige staff. It began with Restorative Practices training for the fifty young people and staff year over the course of a day. The young people expressed an interest in becoming involved in the production of an animated video that would explain Restoratives Practices in a clear and succinct way. The aim was that the video would be used both for those actively engaging in Restorative Practices as well as those who were introducing the concept to young people, youth workers, teachers, trainers in both youth services and education centres and schools for the very first time.

During a Restorative Practice residential, Foróige staff facilitated workshops with the young people to reflect on the training they had received and what they had learned. They worked on their script and met with the motion graphic designer to develop their ideas and capture what they wanted on the final video. Two of the young people did the voice-overs on the video which was a first for them.

Speaking about the project, one of the young people said, “Taking part in the Restorative Practice training and project was a great opportunity; I got to learn skills in Restorative Practice and how to use this in school and home and I also met lots of new friends.”

Foróige Project Leader Susan McLoughlin noted, “The young people achieved so much in the process of making the animated video. Most of them had never even heard of Restorative Practices before. To think that they now have a professionally made video that will explain and promote Restorative Practices as a positive way of dealing with conflict situations is a real credit to all of them. Our thanks to Donegal ETB, Donegal County Council and the Special EU Programmes Body for funding the project through the Peace IV programme.”

The project is funded under priority 1 of the Peace IV programme, promoting peace and reconciliation and under action 4.1 of the local authority peace plan which focuses on the promotion of positive relations at a local and regional level, characterised by respect and where cultural diversity is celebrated and people can live, learn and socialise together, free from prejudice, hate and intolerance. Match-funding has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.

Donegal ETB project coordinator, Dr Sandra Buchanan noted, “This is a brilliant video. Restorative practices is not an easy concept to understand and this video presents an understanding that’s clear, that’s easy to grasp and introduces the concept outline in a nutshell. It is such a useful resource for introducing this topic to young people and adults.”

Donegal County Council Peace IV Programme Co-ordinator, Caroline McCleary, congratulating the young people remarked how she was delighted to see this video, “Peace emanates from conflict and as we put these projects together we can see that we’ve moved on from some of that conflict.  It gives me great pleasure to see projects like this rolled out that involve young people and I hope that the new skills they have learned will help them as they go through life.”

The restorative practices project seeks to improve positive relationships between and for young people, staff, parents/guardians, volunteers, train participants in accredited and non-accredited approaches to Restorative Practices and to develop an understanding of alternative ways of dealing with conflict.

The video can be viewed here.

Pictured at the launch of their Donegal ETB Peace IV funded restorative practices project are some of the young people who were involved in making the video. Included are Susan McLoughlin (Foróige Project Leader), Una McGuinness (Restorative Practices Project Administrator), Dr Sandra Buchanan (Restorative Practices Project Co-ordinator) and Caroline McCleary (Donegal County Council Peace IV Programme Co-Ordinator).

Fifty Key Messages – Safety first, let’s talk about sexual health

Sexual Health:

Talk about sexual health with your teenager. Remember sexual health isn’t only about having safe sex, it is also about how your teenager feels about their developing body, their understanding of being attracted to somebody and being intimate and developing and maintaining respectful relationships. It is important that we enable our teenagers to make responsible choices with regards their sexual health.

Here are some important things for young people to know and understand:

  • All young people are different and therefore grow and develop at different times,
  • In relation to any intimate activity all young people need to always negotiate consent. That means both giving and getting consent,
    • The right to say ‘no’. Every person has the right to control what happens to their body. Your child should never feel pressured into doing anything that doesn’t feel right. Talk with your child about recognising what feels comfortable and safe, rather than doing what their friends are doing,
    • What ‘safe sex’ means, and how to protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections,
    • The laws that apply to sex and sexual touching,
  • How, when and where to get advice on any issue related to sexuality: GP, school/college counsellor, community health services, online sources.

For more information:

I’m worried my 16 year old is having sex

Q. My 16-year-old son has his first serious girlfriend who is the same age. They seem to be “madly in love” and want to spend every waking hour with each other. This is fine, to a degree, and I remember being in love as a teenager myself, but I am worried that it is all a bit too serious. I am particularly worried that they might have sex and I find myself supervising or chaperoning them when they are in the house to the point that it must be annoying. I have had the conversation with him about him being too young to have sex and he has been told about birth control and safe sex. Each time we have a conversation like this he gets embarrassed and fobs me off. My husband thinks I am over reacting, that he is a sensible kid and I should back off a bit. They will both be 17 at the end of the year but even so I am not sure about them having sex at that age. My main worry is that she will become pregnant. Any advice is welcome

A. The prospect of their teenagers becoming sexually active is generally an uncomfortable subject for most parents. Many parents have strong beliefs and values as to when their teenagers are ready to have sex and even parents with more liberal views who accept their teenagers having sex may find it hard to accept that this might be happening under their own roof. As you have discovered, it can also be an embarrassing subject to raise directly with your teenager and, as a result, it is easily avoided or discussed only indirectly or with vague warnings about consequences and dangers. However, I would suggest that it is important for you and your husband to confront the issue head on and to find ways to discuss the issues frankly with your son. Below are some guidelines.

Think through your own values

The first thing to do is to think through your own values and what is at issue for you. It is perfectly reasonable for you not to want your son to start a sexual relationship until he at least reaches the age of consent, especially given the legal implications of this. You are also entitled to share your values with him about sex and relationships and to state a preference that he might wait until he is older or is more secure in the relationship or until he has completed his Leaving Cert, or whatever else is important to you. It is also reasonable that there should be some element of chaperoning and supervision when he is with his girlfriend now and even beyond the age of 17. You should also take into account what his girlfriend’s parents might feel about the situation. They may also not like the idea of their daughter being unsupervised or involved in a sexual relationship at a young age.

Be realistic

However, you also need to be realistic and accept that your son and his girlfriend may choose to have sex despite how you feel about this. Even if you could supervise and chaperone your son all the time, this may not be desirable as it does not teach your son about being responsible and making his own decisions. Also, if you are too “controlling”, this could backfire and it could push him to defy you or to hide things from you and to not tell you when he is seeing his girlfriend. For this reason, as well as stating your values, it is important to make sure that your son understands contraception and is prepared to use it. It is important to warn him about the power of sexual attraction and how many young people can have sex in an unplanned way in the heat of the moment and this is when they are most at risk of pregnancy, and so on. You need to make sure he understands that it’s up to both partners to think about using condoms and contraception.

Having the conversation

Though it can be an awkward conversation, it is important to confront these issues head on and to raise the concerns in a matter-of-fact way. Picking a good time to talk is a crucial first step, for example when you have time alone together such as on a walk or in the car. It can be a good idea to start gently and positively by making positive comments such as “Things seem to be going well with N” or “N seems like a lovely girl” or by asking open questions “How are things going with N?” Encourage him to talk about the relationship and listen carefully to his feelings. Accepting his relationship and what it means to him is important and will reduce his defensiveness.

In raising the issue of sex, a good strategy is to be matter of fact and to ask him what he thinks as well as stating your own views. For example, you could say “As your parent, you should know I think you should wait until you are older before you have sex . . . What do you think?” If he is embarrassed or finds it hard to answer, acknowledge this is a difficult conversation but that as a parent you need to talk to him to ensure he knows the facts and is well prepared. It could be helpful if both you and your husband have these conversations with him at different times so he gets access to both the male and female viewpoint as well as the support of his mother and father.

Trust your son

Bringing up teenagers is a delicate balance of setting rules and guiding them as well as backing off and trusting them to make their own decisions. Expressing a belief in your son that he can make good decisions – “I know you are sensible” – can help him believe in himself. Above all, keep the channels of communication open between you so you can be there to support him along the way. There are some great resources and downloadable booklets on talking to teenagers about sex and sexuality on www.crisispregnancy.ie.

John Sharry, Irish Times, May 2013.

Source:  Solution Talk 

To explore more Key Messages to support your parenting see https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/12-years/

Meitheal – working with children, young people and their families to encourage strengths and identify needs

Do you want some help with school, home, friends, worries, loneliness, family? Maybe a Meitheal could help.

Meitheal is an old Irish word that describes how neighbours come together to support each other in times of need. Our Meitheal can support you and your family to get the help you need.

Here is a video made by other young adults which will help you understand what a Meitheal is and how it works. Just click the link:-

https://youtu.be/wp89nsR5jcE

Meitheal is a way of working with you and your family to encourage your strengths and to identify your needs.

Meitheal brings together people and services that can help you to make the changes you want in your life. The kinds of services that might be involved in Meitheal are schools, youth services, family resource centres and medical services.

If you are facing challenges that are difficult to overcome and you need someone in your corner, Meitheal could help.

Here are some of the challenges that Meitheal could help you with:

  • Problems at school
  • Feeling down
  • Not getting on with your parents
  • Problems at home
  • Loneliness
  • Worrying a lot

Maybe you are already getting support from different services but finding it hard to deal with all of them at once. Meitheal brings everyone together. It’s a bit like having a whole team looking out for you.

How does Meitheal work?
  • You will work with a supportive person called a lead practitioner. This may be a youth worker, counsellor or teacher. The important thing is this is someone you trust and are happy to work with.
  • Your lead practitioner will help you think about your strengths and needs
  • The next step is your lead practitioner will arrange a Meitheal support meetingfor you and your parents or guardians where they will  help to put a plan in place for you. This may include a youth worker, a youth club leader or teacher
  • The Meitheal team will help you follow the plan and make the changes you want in life, thought regular meetings for as long as you need it
  • You and your family will decide how long you want this support for
It is very important that you and your family understand every part of the plan.

What have young people said about Meitheal?

I had a say about what was happening for me, all the people who worked with me, coming together for me, was good

Meitheal changed how I thought of myself, who I thought I could be in life and just gave me a goal

If you think Meitheal could help you contact your local office here in Donegal on 074 9123783

HSE launches Mental Health Campaign for Young People

HSE launches Mental Health Campaign for Young People
https://www2.hse.ie/mental-health/

 
The HSE has  launched a new mental health campaign specifically targeted at young people. The ‘Mind Monster’ campaign was developed to raise awareness among adolescents and young adults of ways to look after their mental health. Focusing on things that are known to cause stress and anxiety the campaign highlights the benefits that getting enough sleep, taking regular study breaks, spending less time on devices and sharing a problem with someone you trust can have on your mental health. 
 
The campaign launches today on radio and social media and signposts to the HSE’s newly developed website https://www2.hse.ie/mental-health/ . The site provides a significantly improved experience for everyone but is particularly relevant to young people who access information online every day. They will be able to find personalised support options through a search tool that generates information on online resources, telephone and face-to-face services relevant to a wide range of mental health issues including depression, anxiety and stress.
 
Speaking about the campaign Mr Jim Ryan, HSE Assistant National Director for Mental Health Operations said: “We know young people today have a lot to deal with. We wanted our campaign to highlight two key things –  you’re not on your own and talking about things with someone you trust can help. This reinforces messages within our Little Things mental health campaign that there are small everyday things that will make a positive impact on our mental health. Providing young people of all ages with the information and resources to protect their mental health is a huge focus for us. This campaign follows on from a campaign we recently launched with Union of Students Ireland to promote mental health to third level students and forms part of our efforts to deliver on our commitments under Connecting for Life, the national suicide prevention strategy.” 
·         The Mind Monster’ campaign was developed to encourage young people mind their mental health and to seek support and services
·         This campaign forms part of our efforts to deliver on our commitments under Connecting for Life, the national suicide prevention strategy specifically 
·         It also meets a number of recommendations outlined in the Youth Mental Health Task Force 
·         The Mind Monster Campaign was developed using research conducted by the Online Youth Mental Health agency, https://ie.reachout.com/
·         The campaign has been produced in conjunction with Ireland’s Youth Information website  https://spunout.ie/