Cork Childline volunteer speaks out on Leaving Cert students calling charity about self-harm

It comes as thousands of young people across the country prepare to sit their Leaving Certificate Examinations on Wednesday, June 8.
Cork Childline volunteer speaks out on Leaving Cert students calling charity about self-harm

Lee Daly from Charleville has been volunteering with the listening service for children and young adults for five years. He spoke of how during that time Leaving Cert students have reached out to him about self-harming as personal issues become significantly compounded by exam stress.File image.

A CHILDLINE volunteer has opened up about how young people have phoned him while in the act of self-harming due to mental health issues triggered by exam stress.

Lee Daly from Charleville has been volunteering with the listening service for children and young adults for five years. He spoke of how during that time Leaving Cert students have reached out to him about self-harming as personal issues become significantly compounded by exam stress.

A portion of those had been in the process of self-harming when calling the organisation.

It comes as thousands of young people across the country prepare to sit their Leaving Certificate Examinations on Wednesday, June 8.

"There are a range of emotions that young people experience coming up to exams," Lee explained. 

"Some kids are excited but others are extremely anxious. They are often depressed or have experienced suicidal ideation. People are anxious and that's definitely one of the reasons."

He described how young people experiencing stress can keep their feelings bottled up.

"If you hold a glass for a minute it starts to get heavy. If you are holding it for a day then your arm will start to get paralysed. It's the same with any negative feelings you hold on to. Very often, the exam itself is just the straw that breaks the camel's back."

Lee Daly from Childline spoke of the challenges for young people who are turning to the charity due to exam stress
Lee Daly from Childline spoke of the challenges for young people who are turning to the charity due to exam stress

Lee explained the approach they take with young people acting out self-harm.

"Sometimes we might only be seeing the surface level and in reality, there is a lot more going on from the person than just an exam.

“You have to peel it back sometimes as this may be just one of a number of issues being experienced such as a sick family member.

“There are times when you can almost hear the tension leaving their shoulders. Just the process of talking can really help. That alone can help bring them back and lead them not to feel as acute as what they were feeling before. Other times the call will just end.” 

The Childline volunteer said the training he received from the charity equipped him to deal with such difficult calls.

“At the start you fear that you will get a call like that but the training very much kicks in when you are in that situation. Generally, they are not happy that they have done this, so you end up talking through these feelings of guilt. The best thing is to approach in a way that the child knows you're concerned but doesn't feel like they are being given out to. That's a really nice reaction for young people to have."

He is encouraged every child experiencing mental health issues to reach out to the charity.

"Even if it's something as minor as losing a match or having a fight with a friend it is still relevant. These children are just as welcome to come to us for help as the ones suffering from suicide ideation or dealing with self-harm issues."

For more information visit: https://www.childline.ie. Children can contact Childline for free at any time of the day or night by calling 1800 66 66 66. They can also contact the charity through text on 50101.

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