ELEVATE has announced that Podge Collins will be its first ambassador to champion youth wellness in Clare.
The Elevate Foundation was established by Clare’s first Mount Everest summiteer John Burke and his wife Aoibhín Garrihy.
A not-for-profit organisation, it aims to fund the roll-out of a multifaceted wellness programme to young people, utilising independent organisations and professionals, who specialise in youth wellness and mental health.
Podge said it is something he would have liked to have seen in place when he was a teenager.
“The projects that Elevate hope to roll out across secondary schools in Clare, they weren’t around when I was in school. A lot of people my age would have benefited from them.”
Elevate are offering five mindfulness sessions for every second-level student in Clare and he said teachers he has spoken to are very positive about it.
“It’s great for them to get a bit of support from an organisation like Elevate that is willing to try and fund something like this.”
The Cratloe man said he has known people who seemed to be quite happy to the outside world but were struggling internally.
He says people’s social media selves can be very misleading.
“Anyone can be depressed but they could still be posting pictures as if they’re the happiest person in the world. Unfortunately, on social media, we put the sunny side out all the time. People don’t realise that everyone has problems going on in their life. What happens is that because people are posting things online, you think they don’t have any issues but unfortunately that’s not the case.”
Expanding on the downside of social media, he said it only offers an unreflective snippet of a person’s life.
“No-one will be going on social media to say they’re at work at eight o’clock on a Monday morning and it’s lashing rain outside. People don’t see that side of other people’s lives. People always put the sunny side out on social media; it’s always holidays or going away for weekends. Some people perceive that as the other person’s life and they think ‘I’m doing nothing’ and that can have an effect on people.
“Unfortunately, in the day and age we live in, these problems are relatively new and there’s not a lot of research done on them. The generations coming up are probably going to suffer the most from them. I was listening to a talk the other day and it was saying that there is proof that there is a direct correlation between time spent on Facebook and depression for adolescents. These kinds of studies are being done and will be coming out over the next couple of years, I’m sure.”
He feels it is very important for young people to try things to find a niche that suits them. “It’s just about not pigeon-holing yourself to one thing. There’s such a variety of things to do in the world. I just think young people shouldn’t have just one hobby, they should be trying different things constantly, try to upskill and improve themselves.”
Much of Elevate’s work involves helping young people develop coping mechanisms and Podge said he enjoys a variety of things himself, away from hurling and football, that help him in life.
“I think keeping busy is the main thing and trying different things the whole time is important. For me, I tried to take up an instrument to try something different. I tried the guitar. It didn’t go too well but I must get back at it. I find reading very helpful. I love day trips back west or wherever. It’s different for everyone,” he concluded.
By Owen Ryan