Our Voices Heard

15th November 2021

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Recently, our TY students took part in a ‘Planet Youth’ survey. The survey questioned students on several issues including mental and physical wellbeing, sexual health, relationships and the impact of Covid-19 on themselves and others.

Planet Youth is an international evidence-based primary prevention model that was set up to reduce substance rates among teenagers. This module was set up in Iceland in the 1990s because of a high rate of substance abuse among people.

The survey targets the risks and protective factors in young lives that determines their substance use and the behaviours they are growing up in. Getting people to answer this survey helps adults understand things that go on in an adolescent’s life and how it can be affected by different things. A previous survey in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon where 80% of students aged 15 and 16 took part, revealed that 54% of students said that COVID has affected their mental health negatively and 32% of people said they had self-harmed more than once.

The survey addressed questions around teenagers abusing drugs, and alcohol and a teenager’s awareness of it. This is to inform those in power with how much activity is going on in the community right now and to see how much this is going on in everyone’s everyday lives. This information is critical even at local level to address these issues through education and support. There is a real issue among young people currently with alcohol and drugs and curiosity may be one of the biggest factors as to why students get involved in these activities. Young people see older adults consume these substances and they wonder what it is like. Starting as young as thirteen, consuming these products can develop into addiction which is dangerous for a young person’s growth.

The data accumulated from this survey is crucial to understand what is really happening in teenagers’ lives. It also allows comparisons to be made with previous generations and to know what future supports are likely to be needed for the generations to come.  A recent survey revealed that 59% of 15 and 16 year olds said that they aren’t getting the right amount of sleep, so next year when the survey is repeated, authorities will be able to compare this statistic with more recent results.

It is so important that we ask these questions to our younger generation to understand what is going on in their lives and for their own safety. We were delighted to be asked to take part in this survey and hope it forces those in power to increasing supports for young people.

By Sophia Latham, Lía Bracken and Eimear Davey, TY Journalism

Photography by Ruby Corcoran, TY Journalism