The action panel is a group of 20 young people who advise SpunOut.ie and make sure that SpunOut.ie is lead by young people.
We're currently looking for new members and applications are now open! It may not be possible that everyone who applies will be able to take up a place on the panel, but we will speak to all interested and outline other opportunities available too.
James Bohan, who's a current action panel member describes what it's like to be part of the group:
"The AP allows young people to have a real say in an organisation that helps young people. Its young people openly discuss their views on certain topics or issues and suggest ideas about how to address them. The AP is also a great way to meet other young people your age with similar views on life. Friends and bonds are made which will be kept way into the future"
We've got some frequently asked questions below that hopefully will help.
Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS as it is known is a condition that some women can be diagnosed with. There is no one reason as to why some women can have this and others can’t. It can be difficult to diagnose PCOS and some of the main symptoms are period problems, skin problems such as increased acne, fertility issues and sometimes excess hair growth. My experience of PCOS and how I explain it is that an imbalance of hormones is present on my ovaries.
This means that my body produces too much of the male hormone testosterone. Small cysts that usually develop in your ovaries can also be present, this means that you might not ovulate on a monthly basis and you might not get your period on a regular basis. I have always had irregular periods and I have had my fair experience of trying different contraceptive pills to manage this but I never thought to find out if there was a reason behind this.
After having to leave work from extreme period pain, I decided to pay a visit to a doctor to see if anything could be done for me. I thought that I would maybe be put on a new contraceptive pill to manage my periods, or that I would try a new contraceptive method and this would ease the monthly pain. I had a standard blood test done and I waited patiently for the results. At this stage my doctor advised that I should wait to restart my pill as if I had to have an ultra sound scan done it would be best for my body to be as close to its natural way. I received my blood test results and I was told that I had a higher but not alarming level of male hormone testosterone in my body, and although this hasn’t had a big impact on my health, it was the signal to my doctor that I needed to have an ultra sound scan done to determine if I had PCOS.
I don’t really mind hospitals or doctor visits but the idea of having an ultra sound scan done didn’t sit well with me. I spent two days searching and reading online about PCOS and what it all meant. The internet can be risky in situations like this, as information is so easily found and I should have just waited to talk to my doctor. I started to freak out. I found that no one person’s diagnoses are the same. Invisible symptoms can be present too such as insulin problems and weight gain can be a symptom too, particularly for women in their 20s. At this stage, I was really worried and stressed out so I decided to step away from the computer and this was the best decision that I made.
I attended my appointment and although I found it a little bit strange, it was fine and over in no time. I always thought that the first time and only time I would have an ultra sound scan done would be for when I would be pregnant. It was a strange situation to be in but there was no reason for me to freak out or to worry. My one piece of advice for anyone having this scan done would be to drink a lot of water before hand. The more water you drink, the easier it is to see your organs and the less uncomfortable it will be. I asked a lot of questions and the radiologist department and staff were very helpful on the day.
My results determined that I have multiple small cysts on my ovaries and although they are present, I don’t have to worry about them too much right now. PCOS can lead to infertility in women so it is something that I will need to watch as I get older, especially if I plan to have children. I’m now on a new contraceptive pill and it seems to be helping. It’s important to exercise if you have PCOS and I am fortunate that a few months ago I started to address my fitness and mental health. I am about 5’3 in height and with having PCOS I will need to keep a close eye on my weight in the future. I’m not a good cook and I often make excuses to not cook but I’m trying now to address my diet and making a bigger effort to lead a healthier life. I absolutely love chocolate so I make sure to still have chocolate digestives with my tea sometimes, and I am not sorry for that!
It is difficult to take that step to go visit your doctor and to ask those questions in relation to your period and your body. My friends will tell you that I am usually the one to shy away from conversations like this, but going to the doctor has really put my mind at ease and at least I know now why I have had irregular periods. Every woman’s body is different but I believe it is important to listen and to try to understand yours. I should have gone to the doctor years ago about this but I never spoke up or thought it would be worthwhile spending that money on my health. How foolish was I?
Hopefully by sharing my experience and story of having PCOS it will encourage young women and men to go to their doctors for general checkups and ask any questions that you may have. No one else is going to ask them for you! It is so important to look after your body and I will definitely be visiting my doctor on a yearly basis from now on.
Although some people think napping reflects laziness, power naps can make you more productive. It can make you more alert, creative and refreshed. This is especially true if you’re among those working since morning and you probably feel fatigued and drained in the afternoon.
Fortunately, napping for 15 to 20 minutes could help you recover lost energy. But for a power nap to be effective, there are some items you need to have in your workspace. Here is a short list of things you’ll need for an effective power nap.
Taking power naps at work can increase productivity and creativity as it makes employees feel more relaxed and revitalised. But napping for 15 to 20 minutes isn’t a simple endeavour. If you want to feel the full benefits of an effective power nap, you should have the ten mentioned items. These items would help you nap effectively without disturbance from your workmates or from other noises.
What do you think of these must haves for an effective nap? Feel free to share your thoughts below.
“Yourself is the best person you can be”
Almost every LGBTQI person that was asked said that one of the most important things you can do is to be yourself. As you discover your sexual orientation or gender identity and try to figure out who you really are, don’t feel ashamed or feel like what you’re going through isn’t normal. If you know who you are inside, you don’t need to prove anything to anyone else and you shouldn’t feel like you need to fit into a certain box or label. Pretending to be someone you’re not will only make you unhappy. Be honest with yourself so that you can be honest with other people. Don’t worry about what other people will think of you, you will only regret not being open about yourself.
“Take your time coming to terms with your sexuality and coming out”
Coming out is a big deal for every LGBTQI person and it can be hard. Many people advised that you should not come out until you are ready. You may still be trying to figure out your sexuality yourself and you should not feel pressured or rushed to let others know what your identity is when you’re not so sure of it yourself. For some people, the idea of coming out might make you feel uncomfortable, or you may feel that it would be unsafe to come out right now. Know that it is okay to wait until you are ready and you don’t have to tell everyone at once. You can start by telling only a few people that you trust, and as you get more comfortable and confident, begin to tell more people. If you haven’t come out yet but feel like you need someone to talk to, there are plenty of LGBTQI groups and helplines there to support you before, during, and after coming out. BeLonG To is an organisation that supports young LGBTQI people. You can contact them on 01 670 6223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“You are not alone”.
Repeated over and over again, you are not alone is one of the most important messages young LGBTQI people wanted to share. As isolated as you might feel sometimes, there is always someone out there who understands, who has been through the same things as you, who is willing to listen. One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to seek out other people who are LGBTQI who you can talk to. Join groups in your area, connect with other LGBTQI people online (but make sure you stay safe) or contact a helpline. BeLonG To run LGBTQI youth groups all over Ireland - you can find a list of them here. There’s always someone there that you can talk to. If you are LGBTQI, you are part of a community, and you’re never alone.
If you're struggling with your mental health, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or email@example.com.
"Always practice safe sex no matter what"
The importance of practicing safer sex and looking after your sexual health was highlighted by a lot of young LGBTQI people. Their advice is to get checked regularly and there are a number of clinics in Ireland where you can get tested for free. Know the facts about different STIs and always use protection. Find out what your partner’s STI status is and always be honest about your own. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
There is a close relationship between mental health and sleep. It was once thought that poor sleep and insomnia was a symptom of other mental health problems. Now it is thought that poor sleep may actually be a cause, as well as a symptom, of certain mental health problems.
If you’re struggling to sleep over a long period of time, this may lead to more challenges to your mental health, or it may make existing mental health challenges worse. Here are some ways that this might happen:
If you’re going through problems with your mental health, such as stress, depression or anxiety, this can make it harder to sleep.
Sleep hygeine means a healthy sleep patter and habits. If you’re regularly struggling to get a good night’s sleep, there are a number of things you can do to improve it.
Visit the doctor. Many people struggle with sleep problems, and the doctor may be able to help.
If you’re feeling low a lot of the time, you should talk to a friend or family member. There is nothing wrong if asking for help, and don’t feel afraid to ask for a little extra support to help you get by.
Talk about your problems with a doctor and they will be able to advise on what to do.
If you are in distress, call the Samaritans on 116 123.
Back To Work Family Dividend is a new social welfare scheme announced in Budget 2015. It aims to help one-parent families, or families in which the parents have been on Jobseekers Allowance or Benefit for a long time, get back to work.
Currently, parents who receive Jobseeker’s Allowance/Benefit or One-Parent Family Payment, receive an extra €29.80 per child, every week. Under the Back to Work Family Dividend scheme, the parent will retain that weekly €29.80 per child when they go back to work, for the first year of employment. In the second year of employment, they’ll receive 50% of it.
Parents who are coming off their main social welfare payment (Jobseeker’s Allowance/Benefit or One-Parent Family Payment) and going into employment or self-employment are eligible. If you’re a parent who’s already working, but earning below the threshhold to still be eligible for One-Parent Family Payment, and if you’re hours get increased so that you’re no longer eligible for One-Parent Family Payment, may qualify for Back To Work Family Dividend.
This is a brand new scheme that is currently being rolled out. Applications will open in January 2015. Speak to your local social welfare officer about it.
1. Honestly, it’s not that big a deal
STIs are extremely common. Even if nobody is talking about it, it’s pretty likely that at least one of your mates has had an STI at some stage. Having an STI is nothing to be embarrassed about. All it means is that you caught an infection and need to get treated.
2. If you’re sexually active, it’s the only way to know for sure if you’re STI free
As so many STIs don’t carry any symptoms, it can be impossible to know if you actually have one. Even if you practice safe sex and are in a monogamous relationship, just one quick instance of unprotected oral sex is enough to catch a STI. Better safe than sorry!
3. It’s quick
Getting tested will take a little chunk out of one evening or morning of your week - and surely that’s worth it for the peace of mind you get!
4. It’s easy
There are STI clinics all over the place and you’re sure to find one that caters to your specific sexual orientation or gender. Check out the list of clinics here.
5. It’s free
There are loads of free STI clinics around. Check out the list of clinics here.
6. It’s painless
You might have heard rumours that getting an STI test is sore. That’s totally false - STI screenings are completely painless.
7. You’ll feel way safer
If you ever feel even a little bit worried that you’ve maybe caught something, getting tested is the only way to put your mind at rest.
8. You won’t pass anything on
You’ll be able to know for sure that when you have sex, there’s no chance of you passing on an STI to your partner.
9. It’s a great way to build trust
If you and your partner both get tested, a clean bill of health can be great for building trust. It can also prevent any awkward accusations of cheating further on in the relationship.
10. You’re saving yourself from so many potential conditions down the line
Most STIs are totally harmless if you treat them on time. However, if left untreated, they can cause infertility and even damage your internal organs, and that’s certainly worth avoiding!
11. Treatment is easy and takes no time at all
Most STIs can be treated with a quick course of antibiotics. Symptoms clear up very quickly, and you’ll be all clear within a few weeks. Nice one!
Getting tested is normal. Find out where you can get a full sexual health screening here.
Find out what it's like to go to an STI clinic:
Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.
You may hear about how such and such a food or drink is good for; sure it has this vitamin and this amount of potassium but that may not mean much to you if you’re not so sure what you need those for. Not to worry though, we’ve got you covered.
Potassium* - this is a mineral that helps regulate your water levels and helps with balancing acid in your body.
*Bananas, citrus fruit, dried fruit, broccoli
Iron* – this helps red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body.
*Red meat, pork, fish, beans
Calcium* – them bones, them bones need calcium. If only every essential mineral came with its own jingle. You need this for strong bones and teeth.
*Milk and other dairy products, broccoli, orange juice
Magnesium* – we need this for our muscles and nerves to function.
*Leafy green vegetables, bananas, wholegrain bread, chocolate
Zinc* – this is important for growth, strong immunity and healing.
*Red meat, chicken, seafood, beans, dairy products
Vitamin A* is important for vision, especially night vision, bone growth and mucous membranes.
*Milk, eggs, oranges, green vergetables
The B-complex* vitamins help the body obtain energy from food, as well as support vision, healthy skin, and the nervous system.
*Fish, red meat, dairy products, beans, wholegrain foods
Vitamin C* aids in growth of tissues, cartilage, bones, teeth.
*Citrus fruit, tomatoes, broccoli and spinach
Vitamin D* aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorous
*Sunshine, oily fish, orange juice, milk
Vitamin E *is also an antioxidant and helps to generate red blood cells and prevents blood from clotting.
*Nuts, leafy vegetables, wholegrains
Vitamin K* also works with the blood, aiding in the normal clotting.
*Green vegetables, blueberries, seafood
Firstly, let’s be clear, there is only so much you can do to protect yourself from a naked picture or video of you getting into the wrong hands. Other than not sending one at all, there is no guarantee you can prevent it from being shared with a wider audience than you initially intended.
For lots of people, sexting will be relatively incident-free and your messages will generally remain confined to the person you initially planned would see them.
But there are also many cases where something that may seem like a bit of harmless fun at the time ends with massive regret at having sent a photo or video in the first place.
Remember; you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, and should never feel pressured into it. No matter how much you fancy the other person or how much pressure they put on you. If they respect you, they will completely understand, and if they don’t understand then they’re probably not worth your while.
If you’re in a situation that makes you uncomfortable and the other person keeps sending you sext requests, and you’re not interested, don’t be afraid to block them.
Read our article on peer pressure here.
Pretty much what it says on the tin - the sending of sexy texts and/or images to another person for a textual turn on. Obviously it’s not restricted to the dinosaur medium of SMS, and spans WhatsApp, iMessage, FB Messenger, KIK, BBM, Snapchat and dating apps such as Tinder, Blendr & Grindr.
Intimate pix are one thing, but sexting can include videos, made easier by Instagram direct and SnapChat - either way - you don’t want photos or videos getting out there and going further than you intended.
Sexting can be with a partner you’re mad about, a pal for whom nothing is TMI or an acquaintance/stranger on a dating app.
It can make total sense in the heat of the moment.
Maybe you are mad about a guy or gal and think sending a sexy pic is a great idea and will cement your love for eternity(JK!).
Maybe you are both horny and far away from each other and therefore decide it’s the only option available to you at that moment in time.
Or maybe you’re using a dating app like Tinder, Grindr or Blendr and the person you’re sending a nude to is someone you’ve never met or chatted to before.
Not everyone is sexting, but if you do decide to do it , here are some things to consider and some ways to limit your exposure (literally!) if things go wrong…
Sure, it’s meant to be a bit of fun, but what if an image or video were used in a way in which you didn’t want them to be? Having something as intimate as a nude shared without your permission can have a big impact on you psychologically. Be sure to think about the emotional stress of having pictures of yourself distributed to everyone you know by an ex or former friend.
Keeping in mind nothing is totally secure, here are some ways to avoid the trauma of having a picture or video of you leaked;
TheSite - Safe Sexting // WebCam Sex Video:
The Debs is probably the most important social event in the life of all secondary school students. It is definitely the deciding factor for many as to whether to leave school or not, prior to the Leaving Cert!
With all the panic and hype around the situation it becomes easy to forget things.
So here is a simple checklist to keep you on track for that important night:
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a very specific form of therapy that can be used to treat many types of mental health problems. Research shows that it is effective for a wide range of disorders, from anxiety to depression to phobias.
What is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)?
How does it work?
If you want to get a taste of CBT or try it at home, check out the MoodGym programme. It's free and run by the Australian National University.