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Mental health support for girls in secondary school…

8 December 2020

by E

Mental health problems are a very big issue in Ireland and the support students receive in most schools is just not adequate.
Although there is a lot of pressure on both boys and girls in secondary school, I have the most experience with girl's mental health as I'm in an all-girls secondary school. In first and second year many girls are confused about everything, about who their friends are, about all the work, about boys and tan and drinking. However many people are too embarrassed to talk about these problems with adults therefore these problems just start bothering them more and more.  There need to be more opportunities in schools where first and second years can talk about what they're feeling and going through in a trusted place with teachers or counsellors that can help. In my school, we have a male counsellor that has no trusted relationship with any students, therefore they would never go to him if they were feeling a certain way if they wanted to disclose anything.

Also, body image is a huge problem in all-girls secondary school. I'd say at least half of all teenage girls have some sort of body dysmorphia including many girls I know, with social media becoming such a thing and girls always wanting boys to be attracted to them and not wanting to be the biggest girl in their friend group. I personally believe girls' schools should have at least one trusted adult that has training on eating disorders as it is such a big problem in all-girls schools that is not really talked about with teachers that much at all.

Although SPHE is meant to be the time where problems like these are talked about a lot of topics are censored. Our SPHE teacher told us that self-harm is not allowed to be talked about in class as they are meant to teach us what to do before it gets that far. But I don't think they should avoid the topic to be sensitive because some people might be going through that and having a class talk about it could help encourage them to talk to someone about what they're going through.

I think there should be more help available in secondary schools and mental health issues should be talked about a lot more.