Everyone in Ireland will have to embark on a psychological journey as society emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, a mental health professional has said.
“We all need to retrain about social interactions and take reasonable risks as we re-engage face-to-face and end all these zoom calls,” said Paul Gilligan, CEO of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services.
Gilligan spoke Thursday at the #MindYourSelfie webinar, which focused on how young people can better prepare for life after closure.
He said that, at some level, everyone suffers from a post-traumatic stress reaction and that we need to give ourselves time to talk about what we have experienced.
“There is still a lot of uncertainty and none of us has had a pandemic before, so we don’t [FULLY]know its emotional and psychological impact, ”he said.
“There is a sense of optimism and happiness (sometimes close to euphoria) that is almost over and things will return to normal, but there will be feelings of anger, depression and a sense of loss that people will experience from different ways, “he said.
Gilligan, who did not want to “talk” about a mental health pandemic as an inevitable consequence of the Covid pandemic, said most people will not need professional help.
He offered three tips so that young people and everyone else could cope with life after closure.
Gilligan, who is a clinical psychologist, said people must first “believe that they love us, that we are good people, and that we have the ability to be happy.”
He said emotional honesty will be “50% of the journey” of this pandemic for people. “We all have a deep psychological resilience and the connection to that will be really important in getting out of this pandemic.”
His second piece of advice is to “trust others.” He said: “Most young people know they can trust family, teachers and organizations and this reminds them that it is important to express how they feel, listen and communicate with other people they trust.”
His third piece of advice is to “embrace uncertainty.”
“There have been big losses that have been different for each of us, but it’s important that we share our Covid stories,” he said.
According to Gilligan, some people will want to move quickly from Covid-19, but there needs to be space to process what has happened.
“Some young people feel that they have lost a year and want to forget that it has never happened. For any trauma, if you advance too early, don’t give yourself the space you need to talk. “
Speaking at the same webinar, Dr. Aideen O’Neill, a clinical psychologist with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, said the blockades created specific difficulties for young people with eating disorders.
“Unpredictability makes us all more anxious and some people worry about food as a way to stay in control. The emphasis on social media on food and fitness and the challenges of closing steps was a little unhelpful for some young people, ”he said.
Dr. O’Neill advised young people struggling with eating disorders to talk about how they feel and to seek the support of those around them.
Representatives of the youth mental health charity Spunout, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the LGBT + support group BelongTo were among the other organizations at the webinar that supported young people life after closure.