I strongly believe now more than ever that we need to look at what we want from our country and where we want our country to be heading. It is now coming up to Christmas and it is an extremely tough time for people all over the country.
Announcing COVID-19 restrictions
Recently, NPHET announced a Level 5 Restriction guideline for the government. This was announced in the media on a Sunday night. This is when many parents are preparing their children for school, people are getting ready for work, and trying to deal with the idea of Halloween being different for their children and our country this year. Is it really fair that our media are putting out all these news sources, driving more fear and spreading panic to people already feeling vulnerable?
On the 18th of October, again on a Sunday, Simon Harris announced that more restrictions would be put in place. These restrictions leave many people feeling powerless, weak and scared. Many people are struggling to cope with the lack of control we are facing in our lives and in our economy.
For people’s mental health, people who are suffering, lonely and afraid, the timing of these announcements and the way they’re made are not being taken into consideration and we need to get a firmer grasp on that. They need to ensure that the media are not leaking information from the government resulting in fear before any formal announcements have been made. They need to make sure that there is access to information and support for any frightened or vulnerable person and that they can access support immediately.
The impact on vulnerable groups
I feel the government has failed to take into consideration the problems these restrictions will have on people, especially as we head into shorter days and longer nights.
Young trans people
Firstly, I wish to discuss Trans healthcare in Ireland. Many people who are on hormone treatment who cannot inject themselves, are being considered as non-essential. This not only means they are being seen as less important than other groups, it also will cause huge mental health distress and harm to many people in our country. We can better support them by ensuring that doctors and medical staff can still treat them at level 5. We should also ensure that we speak up so that trans people feel respected and seen.
Secondly, my heart goes out to grandparents who cannot see their grandchildren or children. These people may only have a few years left and are vulnerable and deserve respect and recognition in our country. Everyone’s mental health is now suffering. We need to reach and support who we can.
It’s a difficult time for third level students who have paid for student accommodation, moved away from home, and are getting little information from their government, or even, in some cases their college. Simon Harris had a meeting in the Dáil on Tuesday the 20th of October. He spoke about college when most students were in bed and would not be able to ask any questions or hear what was being spoken about. I feel this is incredibly unjust and unfair and the government should be doing more for third level students.
I also think it’s important to look at how the media are portraying young people in this. The majority of young people are adhering to the guidelines. However, some people are questioning young people, saying they are “lazy” and need to “toughen up.” These comments were left on a video broadcasted on how young people were doing. Something I have noticed in the past four months is people are attacking one another, online and face to face. We need to stick together and stop looking for problems in different generations. Every single person is facing unique challenges in this difficult time. We need to stick together and stop tearing one another apart.
Six weeks is a really long time for everyone. If anyone needs support please be there for one another. We need to be strong and think of better days to come. We can and will get through this but we must stick together and trust in one another. Things will change and hopefully we can discuss some of these issues and make the government take note so that these dark days might be a little brighter for some people.
If you need to talk to anyone there is so many amazing helplines you can reach out to: