Sunday 19 January 2020

'The Leaving Cert has had its day - we need to reform the education system' - Bressie

Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

He's poised to start a Masters degree in Mindfulness at UCD next month and the mental health of Ireland's students is on Bressie's mind as the State exams get underway.

The musician and wellness advocate set up Lust for Life in 2015, an organisation which aims to change how we talk about and treat mental health in Ireland.

As thousands of students across the country sit the first of their Junior Cert and Leaving Cert exams today, Bressie questions how the exams impact on the mental health of young people.

"One of my big passions is to in some way reform the education system to help young people in dealing with life," he tells

"Students are sitting down to do the Leaving Cert today but the Leaving Cert has had its day.  It no longer caters for creativity, for life skills, or helps people's ability to cope with life.  These are things we need to start teaching young people."

Bressie describes this aim as "another great passion of mine alongside music".

He's currently touring the country with his band The Blizzards, who reformed 18 months ago after a six year hiatus, and are gearing up to support The 1975 at Malahide Castle on June 17.

As well as writing and touring with the band, he has also just opened a recording studio, and starts his two year Masters degree next month.

It will see him return to the university where his battle with anxiety raged almost 20 years ago after he won a sports scholarship and studied for a degree in commerce.

He dropped out in the first year and deferred so it's a little daunting going back now.

"Studying is the most intimidating part of it all because I'm going back to something that initially I found quite difficult," he says.

"That's the one area [in life] I think I'm going to have to just hit and see what happens.  I'm going to give it a shot."

He adds, "Ultimately I'm going full circle.  I'm going back to something [mindfulness] that I believe is going to be the most important thing on the agenda over the next 5 or 6 years. 

"We live in a chaotic world now and it's important for people to learn how to step away from it.  The research and science behind mindfulness now is incredible.  I want to be involved on an expert level.  I want to help people. 

"It will massively benefit me but it's hugely important how we communicate it and I want to try to bring it to young people too."

The Blizzards support The 1975 at Malahide Castle on June 17 and their new single Show Me the Science is out on July 7.

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