There has been a notable increase in young people experiencing suicidal thoughts during the Covid-19 crisis, the Donegal Youth Service reports.
Young people who reached out to the Youth Talk service for support have experienced difficulties with their mental health, social isolation, loneliness and difficulties within their families during the crisis.
As well as these challenges, 5% of young people reported feeling suicidal, with staff reporting a notable increase in young people experiencing these thoughts during Covid-19.
The restrictions that came into effect on March 13th to flatten the curve, and slow the spread of the virus led to the temporary closure of the Donegal Youth Service building, and suspension of face to face youth work throughout the county.
Donegal Youth Service have been working remotely ever since to deliver support, services and crisis response in new ways.
One-to-one listening ear support work has continued through the Youth Talk programme, with 659 one-to-one sessions taking place since the beginning of the crisis. This figure includes young people aged 12-25 who reached out for support since March, as well as young people who were already availing of the service.
Donegal Youth Service Regional Director Lorraine Thompson said “DYS transferred our support service to young people through online platforms as quickly as possible at the start of the pandemic recognising the need to ensure young people had someone to reach out to if needed.”
“Covid19 gave the organisation new challenges but our focus was on providing the best and safest service we could. These figures show that we were able to respond to the young people’s needs and we will continue to do so as we begin the transition back to face to face support.”
Young people who are availing of the Youth Talk service are experiencing many issues right now, with 54% of young people reporting difficulties with their mental health, 53% struggling with social isolation, 45% struggling with loneliness and 40% experiencing issues and difficulties within their families.
Some of the other issues that have arisen during Youth Talk sessions include worries about unemployment (14%), school or college (35%), relationships (23%), drugs (16%), alcohol (15%), homelessness (2.5%), bereavement (3.2%), and bullying (6.4%) to name just a few of the myriad issues impacting young people in Donegal at this time.
Donegal Youth Service moved their programmes online, with 414 group programmes taking place over Zoom and Skype. There have also been 117 workshops, 22 drop-in sessions, and 498 queries answered.
Staff have responded to 36 situations requiring an emergency response, and a total of 1281 support sessions have taken place to date. Communication is key and through social media channels and the Donegal Youth Service website there have been 1355 online posts sharing information, resources and reassurance.
Over 200 meals and care packages were also delivered to young people and their families throughout the county. The service has issued a special thanks to Chef Martin Anderson from Sonder for the meals, and the local community who donated to the fundraising campaign. Initiatives like these were only possible due to the fantastic community spirit in Donegal during the crisis.
Donegal Youth Service will continue to provide services and support remotely, as well as slowly returning to face to face Youth Work in a safe way in line with the easing of Government restrictions.
For more information about any Donegal Youth Service’s services or supports during the Covid-19 Pandemic please visit www.donegalyouthservice.ie, or find DYS on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Donegal Youth Service is a registered charity. Registered charity number: 20050696.
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