Irish Daily Star

Dropouts up due to anxiety...

- ■■Ciara O’LOUGHLIN

THE mental health of Irish people is a huge concern, with more than half of the population thought to be suffering from depression or anxiety, a study has found.

Out of 1,000 people surveyed, only 22 per cent describe their lives as “flourishin­g”, according to the research by AXA Ireland.

32 per cent said they are “getting by”, 27 per cent are “languishin­g”, while 19 per cent said they are “struggling”.

Despite this, the majority of people in Ireland appear to be dealing with mental health issues, with a massive 54 per cent suspected to be suffering from moderate, severe, or extreme anxiety, stress or depression.

Out of the 1,000 people questioned on their mental health, 54 per cent said they experience stress and anxiety that is difficult to control. And 46 per cent said they experience feelings of worthlessn­ess due to their work environmen­t, while 57 per cent said they are currently having trouble sleeping.

However, 88 per cent said they believe their mental health is “good” or “average”.

Despite the workplace being a big cause of anxiety for more than half of those surveyed in the AXA Mind Health Report, 63 per cent said they were satisfied with their company’s help, support or services after experienci­ng an issue in the past year.


Workplace stress has a massive impact on the country’s economy, the study also found.

Due to an increase in workers disengagin­g because of work-related stress, the Irish economy could be losing €28billion, according to a Centre of Economics and Business Research report on behalf of AXA.

AXA Ireland Chief Executive Marguerite Brosnan said the report highlights the scale of the mental health challenges facing the country.

She added: “The study also highlights a real need for caring for employees’ mind health. Companies have a vital role to play in supporting colleagues to retain or regain control over the future with an optimistic outlook.

“When people’s mind health improves, they flourish, and in turn, so do our businesses and economy.”

Ms Brosnan said there are positives to take from the report, including the extent to which people feel supported by friends and family.

65 per cent of those surveyed said they believe their family and friends would provide mental health support should they need it.

She added that there is also a growing societal focus on mental health, which was an overwhelmi­ngly positive thing, and said it is critically important that the nation’s mental health continues to be monitored in depth.

The study comes just a few years after people’s mental health across the globe was affected by Covid-19.

The impact of the pandemic on the Irish population is highlighte­d in the Central Statistic Office stats for mental health and wellbeing in 2021.

It showed that four in ten people (an increase from 35.6 per cent in November 2020 to 41.7 per cent) reported that their life satisfacti­on was low, the highest rating yet in these surveys.

In 2020, the number of children presenting to A&E in an Irish hospital for mental health reasons rose by 25 per cent.


This is despite the number of overall presentati­ons to the emergency department declining by 40 per cent, as people were encouraged to stay at home if possible.

The mental health issues seen in children who did attend A&E in 2020 included deliberate selfharm, overdoses and other psychiatri­c problems.

The increased presentati­ons also affected females disproport­ionately, with large increases detected in anorexia nervosa, anxiety and several other eating disorders.

The research, which was released last month, was based on a retrospect­ive study of more than 80,000 visits to the pediatric emergency department at University Hospital

A SURGE in anxiety and depression among children and teens has led many to avoid returning to school or college post-pandemic.

National Learning Network, a specialist education provider within the Rehab Group, continues to receive referrals from students dropping out or refusing to return to school due to complex mental health issues.

As NLN prepares for its National Open Day next Wednesday, the focus is on a rise in dropout rates, particular­ly among students living with mental health issues.

NLN offers an alternativ­e to traditiona­l education, emphasisin­g the developmen­t of essential life skills, mental health support and employabil­ity.


Psychologi­st with NLN in Bray, Co Wicklow, Jane Watson, explained that many young people developed mental health issues during the pandemic, exacerbati­ng their reluctance to return to school or college.

Higher Education Authority data underscore­s this trend, with college dropout rates going from nine to 15 per cent between 2019/2020 and 2021/2022, affecting nearly 7,000 students.

NLN has seen a surge in referrals from various services for teens needing alternativ­e education paths.

Ms Watson said: “So they’re coming to us to be in a supportive environmen­t, earn a qualificat­ion, regroup, build up their skills and get back into further education or employment.

“People need a service like ours, where you’re sitting down with the person and providing a space to figure out your goals and plan.”

Limerick between the years 2017 and 2022.

Published in the Irish Medical Journal, it found that the number of medical presentati­ons at the department dropped dramatical­ly from 14,338 in 2019 to just 8,769 in 2020 – a reduction of 38.8 per cent.

This then rebounded in 2021 by 30.9 per cent, and by a further 25.6 per cent in 2022.

Mental health was one of just three categories of presentati­on that increased from 2019 to 2020, along with skin infections and urinary issues, rising by 25.4 per cent.

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