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Don’t be fooled by the mask I wear, that is the first line of a great poem by Charles Finn. We, as humans are great at masking what is really going on for us. We live in a very fast world where it appears to be all glitz and glamour. Over the last 15 years our young people have been leaving our shores in search of brighter, richer futures and unfortunately the grass is nearly always not as green as it is portrayed.

Unfortunately, this is a generational occurence. Years ago, our Irish men left to work in England and America. Coming home at Christmas some of them took loans out so that they would look like they had found the streets that were paved with gold. Shame was huge and at all costs they would not allow their guard down to be vulnerable. ‘Fair play to Johnny, he has done fierce well over yonder’, or ‘Paddy really knows how to let his hair down when he comes home’ would be common comments you would hear about men that would come home from abroad years ago.

Today, the way we get to see how our expats are doing is online and again most of the time it is being shown very different to how the reality actually is. A lot of our expats are struggling and are feeling great pressure which is affecting their mental health. They are burning out under the pressure of work, in addition to coping with loneliness, anxiety and financial stress. We have no time. Work no longer seems to be an eight hour day. We seem to be under constant pressure to preform, whether it is physically with our bodies in the gym so that we look a certain way, or the pressure we undergo in our work.

A lot of our young people today are leaving Ireland. They have worked hard, under, at times, extreme pressure in college and unfortunately are unable to find work. If they are lucky to find work in their chosen profession they cannot afford the accommodation and are left with no option but to leave Ireland.

Leaving home at the best of times can be so difficult. Leaving to another country is understandably daunting. Thankfully the internet has really great benefits too. It gives you access to support wherever in the world you may be. You can now access online counselling from the comfort of your own apartment and get support as you deal with the challenges that occur for you.

There are safe, professional supports that will help you not to wear a mask, to work through your struggles. To be human, is to struggle.

Mary McHugh MSc Owner Irish Online Counselling & Psychotherapy Service