Thursday, 3 June 2021
Mental Health During and Post Covid-19: Statements
Mick Barry (Cork North Central, Solidarity)
The leaving certificate exams begin next Wednesday. This is the most stressful set of exams done by second level students, by young adults, anywhere in Europe. I challenge any Deputy in the House to dispute that assertion. It is all the more difficult when young people have been forced to prepare for those exams, and now sit them, during a global pandemic. I am certain there are hundreds of students who are only going to be able to get through the stress of these exams thanks to medication and I would not be at all surprised if the real figure was in the thousands. That is not the way young people should be prepared for leaving school and going out into society. The Studyclix survey of 2019 polled nearly 3,000 students and found 75% of them reporting severe stress over the course of the leaving certificate cycle, with 35% suffering insomnia and 28% suffering depression.
The Government decision not to release exam results this year until 3 September does not help and it is not conducive to students making calm choices about college courses. It makes the sourcing of college accommodation very difficult and it adds to stress levels in the run-up to the exams. I am not convinced by the Government's arguments as to why results cannot be released earlier and the Government should reconsider its position on the matter.
The leaving certificate is not compatible with the protection of the mental health of our young people. It should go and be replaced with a policy of open access to third level education.