SECOND-year students from Midleton heard about the dangers of drugs and the power of positive mental health from a Government Minister of State, a famous face from television and the gardaí.
East Cork TD and Minister of State David Stanton, former Fair City actress Rachel Sarah Murphy and community Garda Rachel McGrath, were on hand at the MyPlace community centre in Midleton to raise awareness on the impact of drug use and benefits of good mental health.
Minister Stanton said early intervention and keeping active are essential to ensuring young people stay positive.
“Young people are forming opinions about and it's very important to engage with them. I want to applaud what the gardaí and youth workers are doing here to engage with young people out of the school setting,” he said.
“There is always help out there. Lifestyle is important, getting involved in sport and other activities where you can have fun and develop personally in a positive way. We need to start highlighting the good things and positive things in our communities and give people hope,” he added.
Midleton Community Garda Rachel McGrath said her station operated an open door policy for young people who are having issues with alcohol or drug abuse.
“We're hoping that they will be able to avoid the same pitfalls that other young people have fallen into. If just one person ends up with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it's one too many,” she said.
“We want to highlight how it will affect the futures of young people, how their convictions may stop them from travelling and they'll find it difficult to get visas. We want to work very closely with young people and if they have a problem, we have an open door policy. They can come in and speak with us and we will do our utmost to get them help to prevent them going down the criminal route,” she added.
Rachel Sarah Murphy, who played Jo in Fair City for several years and is now the CEO of the Irish Film Academy, wants to see mindfulness introduced in Irish schools to address mental health issues.
“Everybody needs to think about maintaining good mental health. It's very important that people just talk, because the minute you talk, you take the legs off a problem,” she said.
“We've introduced mindfulness into all courses at the Irish Film Academy. For the first 15 minutes of every class we have meditation. If you want things to go well in your life, you need to be giving out positivity, not negativity.
"Every single school should start in the morning with ten minutes for meditation. they are in a prime position to change society because if mental health is not tackled, we have homelessness, addiction, marriage breakdowns and it all spirals out of control. It all starts at school," she added.