Wednesday 18 July 2018

The threads that show we are building to a crisis

Four-year-olds are self-harming, doctors are quitting, Tusla is a disaster area, but here's one modest suggestion to break the cycle, says Brendan O'Connor

'Schoolchildren as young as four are apparently exhibiting signs of anxiety and self-harm and even suicidal ideation.'
'Schoolchildren as young as four are apparently exhibiting signs of anxiety and self-harm and even suicidal ideation.'
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

It's a sunny day and I don't want to depress you. But I want to draw your attention to some strands of a quiet crisis, some niggling things that keep popping up in various forms that point to an alarming picture. These are things indeed that suggest we should be the last people to be feeling judgmental about Donald Trump's treatment of migrant children, or indeed about our own dark chapters in the past.

Last week saw alarming headline results from a survey of school principals funded by St Patrick's Mental Health Services. Schoolchildren as young as four are apparently exhibiting signs of anxiety and self-harm and even suicidal ideation.

What was arguably more interesting were the reasons for this. According to one report, "The vast majority of principals reported problems among schoolchildren relating to 'general family issues' (86pc), separation or marital breakdown and anxiety (both 79pc). Bullying (54pc), cyberbullying (37pc), self-harm, depression (both 28pc), suicidal ideation (23pc), eating disorders (15pc) and sexual identity issues (9pc) were also cited as significant issues".

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