Don’t apologise if you can’t come to the phone right now: Why boundary setting in friendships is important

Don’t apologise if you can’t come to the phone right now: Why boundary setting in friendships is important

Don’t apologise if you can’t come to the phone right now: Why boundary setting in friendships is important

paper cut-outs of friends with notification symbols around them
Ciara Phelan

2nd June 2021

Many of our social norms pre-pandemic have been flipped on their heads, as we continue to adapt to the ever-changing lockdown restrictions. It is a given that some people take the restrictions more seriously than others, and this has caused a lot of us to have potentially uncomfortable conversations with our friends and families. Conversations regarding meeting up outdoors, wearing a mask or not, and compliance with social distancing guidelines has opened a previously neglected can of worms concerning healthy boundaries amongst friends. 


After over a year of not seeing many of our friends and family, we dream of poignant, teary reunions. However, even within my own extended friend circle, I see both extremes of rule-following and rule-breaking with regard to restrictions. I have some friends willing to party every night; I have some friends who refuse to meet indoors and who follow restrictions to the letter. Both choices are okay – they are all adults who are allowed to do what they want – but these personal choices lead to potentially complex and awkward encounters with those closest to us. It is vital that boundaries are set to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and safe.  


“Respecting the boundaries of your peers is possibly the most basic level of dignity that we can give to those closest to us. This pandemic has brought to light a fundamental issue within many of our relationships, and has almost exaggerated pre-existing issues regarding the give-and-take of friendships.”

It is very evident that the last year of lockdowns and restrictions has taken a serious toll on our mental health, and although it is nice to confide in others, and similarly be there for your friends to confide in, this must be done in moderation and in balance. In normal times, it was seen as okay for a friend to unload their emotions onto you, as they struggle through a tough time. However, when both of your struggles are heightened in isolation, it is vital to the friendship that boundaries are maintained and that the feelings of others are taken into consideration before they are overwhelmed. 


In an age of constant contact and updates, setting boundaries can be seen as a daunting task. The immediate nature of social media has put pressure on young people nowadays to always be on and accessible, and we as human beings are not built for these demands. Actions as simple as turning off your location on on Snapchat maps, turning off your activity status on Instagram and WhatsApp, and even turning off some push notifications can give you the time and space to recharge when needed. This is an adjustment that both you and your friends will navigate together but personal experience shows that most people will eventually respect these decisions.  


Boundaries are not something to worry about – instead, they should merely be seen as simple guidelines to follow. For example, boundaries could be as simple as how much you tell each other, what you do together, how you treat each other’s values and time, how you support each other, and when it is okay to say no. Boundaries are not a taboo conversation, but should be taken seriously if they are overstepped. Boundaries are put in place to create a healthier friendship; but if nothing changes, and if boundaries are consistently violated, it may be time to draw a line and let them go. 


If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that our values were previously out of line, and that we need to put our health – both physical and mental – to the forefront of our list of priorities. The implementation of physical and emotional boundaries is something that I never really considered in the past, but has vastly improved all my relationships since I enforced them.





Featured photo created using Canva

This article was supported by: STAND Opinion Editor + Programme Assistant Rachel


Announcement culture: a 21st problem with an age-old solution

Announcement culture: a 21st problem with an age-old solution

Announcement culture: a 21st problem with an age-old solution

person sitting on the floor and working on laptop
Ruby Cooney

26th May 2021


Grace Beverley, founder of fitness brands TALA and Shreddy, recently posted to her one million Instagram followers asking the question “Do you think announcement culture exists?” In her own words, she explained that announcement culture is that ever-growing need to announce everything we’re doing, resulting in the perpetuation of our anxiety over having something to announce in the first place. She brings up the point of announceable goals and our tendency to judge our success and that of others on the quantity of announcements made rather than quality. We can all relate to the validation we get from ticking off something on our to-do lists, as well as our human need for instant gratification, which is one of Instagram’s more attractive qualities. Still, Beverley suggests that this can make us prioritise easy work over actual profound progress. 


Grace Beverley recently became a Sunday Times #1 bestseller with her book Working Hard, Hardly Working, which she describes as a productivity blueprint to show how to actively work hard. Beverley initially launched her fitness app Shreddy in her first year of Oxford University while maintaining a social media presence. She then launched her second business TALA two years ago, a month before taking her final exams, which has since made over £10 million, selling sustainable and affordable fitness clothes. Winner of London’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Beverley is only 24 years old and has made it onto Forbes30 Under 30 – Retail and eCommerce” list. Beverley’s book covers how to maximise productivity, minimise burnout and teaching yourself to rest, which are very appropriate to present pandemic life.


“While technology had already forced work life to begin merging with home life, making it challenging to build boundaries, since the onset of the pandemic, boundaries between work and home life become even more blurred than before.”

Beverley talks of internalising this idea that we need to be working all the time. Hustle culture is the unhealthy societal standard that means you can only succeed if you exert yourself to the fullest, devoting all and any time to working. Working from home can make people feel unproductive. They can often overcompensate with working too hard for longer hours than they would have when working in an office, causing people to miss early signs of stress and lead them to burnout. While burnout isn’t a clinical diagnosis, it is a well-known concept, with symptoms being an increase in anxiety, low mood, difficulty coping, and health issues. Psychotherapist and author, Owen O’Kane, say that “bedrooms, kitchens and garden sheds have fast become the office space of 2020, and the situation has been aggravated with school closures leaving many people juggling work, childcare and everyday chores all at the same time.” He states that “For many it’s been a recipe for a meltdown in lockdown.” Signs that someone may be suffering from burnout when working from home is a change in moods and sleep pattern, an increase in anxiety and unhealthy habits, withdrawal from everyday life and physical health changes. Beverley points out in her book that “people see this extra time from lockdown as a time to be working, but we should use it to be a human and just do human things. 


In early April, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar signed the Code of Practice on Right to Disconnect. The Right to Disconnect allows employees to switch off from work outside of regular working hours, which includes the right to not respond immediately to emails, phone calls or other messages. The three rights enshrined in the code are the right of an employee not to have to perform work outside their regular working hours routinely, the right not to be penalised for refusing to attend to work matters outside of regular working hours, and the duty to respect another person’s right to disconnect. The new code hopes to strike a better work-life balance for employees and to allow them to switch off outside of normal work hours no matter what their job is. Leo Varadkar stated that “it offers an opportunity to make permanent changes for the better, whether that’s working more from home, having more time with the family, or more flexible working hours.”  


Grace Beverley says that to manage our work-life balance efficiently, we need to know ourselves well. “From my personal experience, to manage time successfully, you need a method – how to work out what to do first, where the important things go, how to stay sane. It needs to become second nature, so that the instant you start to feel that wave coming, you automatically step back and figure it out so you can surf it rather than be pulled under.” She says there is “a new view that you have to absolutely love every second of your work, but you can actually just be really good at getting the work done, do really well at that, and enjoy all the other things in your life, too.”






Featured photo created using Canva

This article was supported by: STAND Opinion Editor Olivia + Programme Assistant Rachel


Women and the Military: The unequal burden of war

Women and the Military: The unequal burden of war

Women and the Military: The unequal burden of war
Women and the military representation
Aoife Burke
4th October 2020
In recent years, the relationship between women and the military has become topical in countries such as the UK. In 2018 all positions in the British Army became open to women for the first time, and since then the army has been using increasingly feminist rhetoric in their PR and recruitment campaigns. However, during the same period, government reports and individual testimonies have shed light on the level of discrimination, abuse, and sexual harassment experienced by women in the British armed forces. These issues have fuelled important discussions on the compatibility of feminism and the military – or lack thereof. These discussions have been largely focused on the experiences of female soldiers, questioning whether army service can be empowering to women on an individual level. However, the stories of female civilians (the group that has historically been most affected by war) have been consistently left out of the discourse. Women who have witnessed the reality of imperialist military intervention and shouldered the true cost of war should be at the forefront in discussions about gender and the army. Instead, both historically and in the present day, female civilians in conflict have had their voices spoken over and their stories twisted and misused, for the benefit of imperialist powers.


As we can see in the British Army’s current PR campaign, particularly in their podcast episode with Laura Whitmore, feminism is being appropriated in order to paint military service as empowering to women. Another, perhaps even more dangerous way in which feminism has been misused is in the portrayal of Western military interventions as liberatory to civilian women. Both of these narratives are used to expand the military reach and both erase the lived experiences of women who have suffered at the hands of militarism. The image of Western military powers as an emancipatory force for women has been promoted for over a century, yet ultimately could not be further from the truth.


Historically, Britain and other European powers have attacked the rights and undermined the autonomy of women in colonised countries. In the process of colonisation, the social, legal, and economic structures of patriarchy were often forced upon native societies. For instance, in pre-colonial Canada, indigenous society generally valued women, and indigenous women often held leadership and decision-making roles. Furthermore, because of strong kinship systems, women were not economically dependent on men. However, colonial settlers ignored the position of women in indigenous culture, refusing to engage with female spokespersons and enforcing the patriarchal norms that had been well-established in Europe by that time. The lasting impact of patriarchal colonialism can still be seen in Canada today, where indigenous women face the highest rates of violence, poverty, and poor health.


“The image of Western military powers as an emancipatory force for women has been promoted for over a century, yet ultimately could not be further from the truth.”

The colonisation of Africa also saw the European ideals of patriarchy imposed on native women. The arrival of cash crops and the exclusion of women from the marketplace meant that African women generally lost power and economic independence during the colonial period. Because colonial authorities relied on the testimony of men to establish customary laws, the legal systems that developed under colonialism disadvantaged women. Furthermore, the pre-colonial political activity of women was largely disregarded and colonial agents worked exclusively with men in establishing political offices. For instance, in many parts of West Africa, associations run by and for women had deciding authority in disputes related to markets and agriculture. However, because these institutions were completely disregarded by European colonisers, they tended to lose power after the late 19th century. Overall, Britain, alongside other imperialist powers, has a long history of reversing the rights and freedoms of civilian women in colonised countries.


Despite this reality, the subject of women’s rights was used to defend British imperialism. This phenomenon relied on the portrayal of women in the Global South as victims, who need to be saved from their own culture by “civilised” Westerners. This paternalistic and racist narrative has been used time and time again to justify devastating wars and exploitative invasions, particularly in Islamic countries. As scholar Leila Ahmed discusses in her book Women and Gender in Islam, the late 19th-century British coloniser Lord Cromer used the veiling of women in Islam as evidence of the inferiority of Islamic civilisations, and ultimately as justification for the colonisation of Egypt. Lord Cromer actively opposed women’s suffrage in Britain and hindered the progression of women’s liberation in Egypt – yet none of this stopped him from using women’s rights as a pretext for his colonial endeavours. Disturbingly, a similar pattern is still playing out in the 21st century.


Since the early 2000s, Britain and the United States have used “feminist” rhetoric to help justify imperialist military invasions in the Middle East. In 2001, George Bush pushed the idea that war in Afghanistan would free “women of cover ” – reverting to the same patronizing portrayal of Muslim women that was used to defend British colonialism over a century prior. Concerningly, women were also complicit in promoting this storyline, with both Laura Bush and Cherie Blair being wheeled out to speak on the plight of Afghan women in the lead up to war – as though Western military invasions and bombing raids would somehow help liberate them. Yet in 2011, ten years into the war, Afghanistan was named the “most dangerous place in the world to be a woman”, with ongoing conflict and NATO airstrikes among the primary reasons cited. In a similar fashion, the narrative of rescuing women was used to legitimise the Iraq war. Bush repeatedly made vague, non-committal statements about women’s rights in the lead-up to the invasion. “Respect for women can … triumph in the Middle East and beyond”, he said in a speech to the UN in 2002 in which he urged action on Iraq. While Iraqi women were granted some benefits on paper during the war period, in reality, they were disproportionately harmed by conflict and left with less security and economic autonomy than before. The vast suffering of female civilians at the hands of British and U.S. military action highlights the utter emptiness of feminist language in this context.


George W. Bush gives a speech on war in the Middle East, focusing on the rights of women (videocafeblog, 2008)
The trend of world leaders appropriating feminism to sell militarism ultimately contributes to public ignorance about what war really means for women. According to the United Nations, war and conflict exacerbate pre-existing gender inequalities and leave women at a heightened risk of human rights violations. During conflict, women and girls are increasingly targeted through the use of sexual violence, including as a tactic of war. In late 2019, the British government and army were accused of covering up war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, including sexual abuse. As well as a serious increase in the risk of gender-based violence, women are also disproportionately impacted by unstable access to essential services. Access to healthcare, including sexual and reproductive healthcare, can often be disrupted during conflict, leaving women and girls at risk of unplanned pregnancy, maternal mortality and STI’s. Furthermore, due to additional domestic responsibilities and fear of targeted attacks, girls’ right to education is disproportionately threatened during war. Continued instability in post-conflict periods means that the threats posed to women’s rights can last long after war officially ends. These issues, and the immense suffering they cause, are too often swept under the rug in discussions about gender and the military.


In conclusion, despite the empty words of political leaders and the vague sentiments of military PR campaigns, war poses a threat to women’s rights throughout the world. The suffering of civilians has always been inherent in the military action of countries such as Britain and the U.S., and women have shouldered the brunt of this injustice. The use of feminist rhetoric in a pro-war context is not only hypocritical but serves to erase the experiences of civilian women in war, including those who have lost their lives.


Stay tuned for episode 3 of this series which will explore whether or not gender representation in the military actually promotes equality.




Featured photo by USA Today


Accepting and Adapting: A Note on COVID-19 Context

Accepting and Adapting: A Note on COVID-19 Context

Accepting and Adapting: A Note on COVID-19 Context
berlin bar dublin wash your hands covid-19 2
olivia moore
Olivia Moore
3rd September 2020

2020 so far has been an absolute whirlwind – and not the good, refreshing, exciting kind. The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown created a completely foreign world for people all over the globe, in which the daily practices and social norms we took so much for granted were completely demolishedWhen a system override of this magnitude happens, there is not much left to do but build again from scratch. 


This time last year, little did we think we would be in position of worldwide quarantine, rendered helpless at the mercy of a deadly virus. Even more socould we ever have pictured all that would go along with something that affects us and our lives to this scale 


This time last year, I would not have believed the fact that I would silently judge people for not wearing a facemask indoors in public.  


I would have thought it ridiculous that we all frequently wait patiently for forty minutes in a spaced-out queue right through the shopping centre just to get into Tesco to do our weekly shop, standing surrounded by deserted clothes shops and restaurants. 


I would have been shocked if I found out that, at different points in the lockdown, we could only travel 2 kilometres and 5 kilometres from our own houses, and only eventually be able to venture outside of our own county towards the end of the summer – and adhered to these rules. 


I would have been surprised (and probably delighted – praise the leg room!) if you mentioned that we were legally only allowed to sit one-per-row on buses and trains.  


When a system override of this magnitude happens, there is not much left to do but build again from scratch.”

I would never have thought I would be rolling my eyes at people choosing to go on or book leisure holidays abroad. 


I would find it utterly unthinkable that schools and colleges could take a six-month hiatus, or if I found out that I would matter-of-factly finish my final exams from my bed at 10pm. 


This time last year, I would have laughed if you told me that the European Commissioner was in national disgrace and was forced to resign after “merely” attending a Golf Society dinner along with 80 people in Galway. 


And yet, all these rules and all these instances we have just taken in our stride. Although it was certainly a shock to the system at the beginning, we got on with it. Now, most of us barely bat an eyelid; we keep an eye on the precautions and follow the rules, as if we have always lived like this. Throughout the coronavirus, the pandemic, and global quarantine, humans have proved themselves to be as flexible and adaptable as ever. A new world has been forced upon us – but we have created the new norms to go with it.  



Featured photo by William Murphy


COVID-19, Mental Health and the ‘Blame Game’

COVID-19, Mental Health and the ‘Blame Game’


COVID-19, Mental Health and the ‘Blame Game’

"no one is illegal"

12th May 2021



Listen to the second episode of Shauna + Orla’s series ‘COVID-19, Mental Health and the ‘Blame Game’ on the following platforms:



Google Podcasts





Radio Republic


The following is the transcription from Shauna + Orla’s episode “COVID-19, Mental Health and the ‘Blame Game'”


Shauna: [00:00:01] Welcome to the STAND Student podcast, where we dive into important social, political, economic and environmental issues at home and around the world.


Orla: [00:00:08] STAND is an initiative for third level students and recent graduates across Ireland supported by Irish Aid.


Shauna: [00:00:15] My name is Shauna.


Orla: [00:00:16] And my name is Orla. And this episode is all about students’ mental health.


Shauna: [00:00:22] So, yes, today we’re going to talk about the mental health specifically, I guess, students, because that’s where we’re coming from. And also we thought we would start off by talking about students in the pandemic.


Orla: [00:00:35] But I definitely, I definitely feel like we’ve drawn the short straw in this whole situation. And I don’t know if that’s me feeling sorry for myself or


Shauna: [00:00:44] Victimizing yourself or is it actually just the, I mean, I think I saw a title so long ago now what it was saying, describing students as the scapegoats of the Irish pandemic. And that has to be said, students definitely have involved themselves in a lot of things, you know, a lot of things that maybe didn’t help out the rest of the country, but so did a lot of people. So did a lot of age groups. So did a lot of different types of people.


Orla: [00:01:15] Yeah, definitely. Like even I seen, when I was working, we have kind of a work Facebook thing and it basically was praising us all for getting the numbers down and how well we are doing at work. And it came up and it just made me so angry because it was like the rise in cases that came in September when all the college students moved back to Galway. And I was like, I literally don’t leave my house.


Shauna: [00:01:42] Yeah, that’s, that’s another thing. It’s they’ve forgotten, in all the narrative, all this they’ve forgotten about the students that have stuck by it and the young people, many of those students, just the young people in general that have stuck by it, but yet are still blamed.


Orla: [00:01:57] At the start, there was this whole rhetoric of togetherness. And as we’ve progressed within the pandemic, you know, stories of students have definitely pinned students against the rest of the country. And they always said that they couldn’t solve this unless there was unity.


Shauna: [00:02:12] I mean, I can understand maybe in journalism and when newspapers are looking for the catchy new thing, you know, in every crisis, someone has to be blamed and someone always is. But I think I remember actually when we had an incident with students and I remember the few days after that going to Tesco or whatever I was doing. And people would look at you like you were there, like they had pictures of you. Me. Yeah. Knew that I would. I avoided it at all costs again. Because you were a student, I don’t know, looking like a student. People immediately thought you were causing the trouble or whatever it was. And then all the blaming and shaming of students, they never, ever mention that students are the ones packing your bags with the like Tesco students are the ones, you know, working. And what these students are the ones doing all these jobs that run throughout the pandemic. When everything else was closed, these businesses were open and no one was saying, oh, well, don’t tell the young people there. No one was ever getting credit there.


Orla : [00:03:23] And I definitely think it’s negatively impacted students mental health. I think we’ve had a hard enough year where you are in the prime of your life and you’re so used to seeing so many people and all got taken away. And then we spend three grand on college where we’re sitting in our bedrooms and which we’re paying six hundred euros a month for. I definitely think that the whole scapegoating thing is trying to justify the whole spread of the pandemic, but it’s going to create a different health issue in the long run if needed.


Shauna: [00:03:58] Yeah, I think the, you know, the lockdown’s are necessary. I understand. But going in and out of lockdown, I think it’s been like the most detrimental thing to people’s mental health. I think that it’s just like wrecked people’s, like hope, because every time we’ve come out of it, we just go right back in and everyone forgets, especially third level, it’s like college students. People have forgotten about them, like people have just decided, not mentioned once, not mentioned once on the news, unless doing something bad.


Orla: [00:04:24]  Exactly. And there’s been no help. There was no event leading up to college. We didn’t know whether we should move in or not. You know, we all did think that we would get some on campus time.


Shauna: [00:04:39] Yeah. What our college told us, it was a blended learning and told us the best thing you can do is probably just move down. And obviously that’s not the case because we have not been on campus since 2019. Obviously we had a different story, but we haven’t been on campus all year for our final year. So the promises made there was another mistake.


Orla: [00:05:02] I definitely think that it’s going to take a lot to build up the trust again between students and the management of higher education institutes. That’s definitely something that needs to centre their approach. There definitely needs to be reform of phase because there is no way that parents or students can continue to pay three thousand euro for people to live in their box and roll in and out of their bed onto their desk.


Shauna: [00:05:29] The blaming of like it’s not even just been the blaming on students on the pandemic. I was saying it earlier. There was an article about blaming students for being on the pandemic payment because they had lost their jobs. And that was somehow.


Orlan: [00:05:47] As if we live on thin air. I think that there is this mindset that parents pay for everything, but in reality, that’s a very, you know, a reality for a very few.


Shauna: [00:05:58] Yeah. And also but it’s like if they lost their job like everyone else, why are they, again, just taken out of the group and just shown as students doing this? It’s students that are racking up all this is students that are going to make us go into a new recession, are going to break the economy because they’re on these payments the whole time when it’s like students are not the only ones on the payments. And they if they have a right to be, if the system allows them to get the payments, I don’t understand these articles that are just deciding to like, take students out of a group. And again, it makes people feel so bad that they’re on the payment. It makes people feel so bad about them. You know, in the article, it says they’re just sitting around doing nothing when, you know, obviously a lot of them are full time college students and also that they’re not being productive enough in the pandemic. Like we can’t be productive enough to be staying at home, are meant to be trying to look out for people. Like it’s almost like what do they, what do you want them to do? Because I don’t think they’re realizing these articles that are coming out. I don’t think they’re realizing how harmful they are to students’ mental health. Students’ mental health is at an all time low. And obviously we’re not trying to exclude other forms of people. I’m not saying that only students have mental health problems. I’m not saying that only young people. But from, you know, the perspective of those who are students now, that’s all that we can talk about and that’s all that we know. And they are people who are suffering a lot with their mental health. And there is no consideration in publishing these articles, how impactful they are to the mental health of students.


Orla: [00:07:40] Yeah, it’s definitely, I think, affecting students, particularly young adults. Obviously, there’s mature students as well, but young adults have the responsibilities of adults, but treating them as children, you can’t win that way. We don’t know where we stand, what we’re meant to be doing.


Shauna: [00:07:56] Obviously, mental health has been such a big, big fight in Ireland, like I think only now and I don’t even know now are we even comfortable by talking about it, because I don’t think we are, especially the older generations. I don’t think as an open conversation as it should be, the pandemic has been so isolating and so it’s not going to positively, you know, like I was saying this, there’s two, there was two types of people going in and coming out of the pandemic. There’s people that took the time who realized, oh, maybe I should work on myself, improve my mental health, all this on the other. And then there’s people where it got worse for them. And then there’s people who have never had mental health issues at all. But going into such isolating circumstances, they’ve you know, they’ve now developed them or they’ve now, it’s now triggered something in them. One of the biggest ones you kind of said it was that integrating students back into campus, obviously, but also like the social anxiety that is going to come from the pandemic, I think is going to be massive. You know, like I’ve forgotten how to socialize. I just don’t know how to like, I don’t know how to talk to someone new. First year going into college and a big, big thing of them not experiencing college at all and went back online.


Orla: [00:09:21] If it goes online next year, they’re two years out there. Three years. Yeah. They’re not going to have the same college experience. And I definitely feel as though, you know, I went into college just because everyone else was and I didn’t know what to do. But through engaging with other people with the same interests me, you know, through society, through volunteering, through going out and meeting people. Yeah, I’ve really developed a sense of myself and who I want to be and who I am. And I think like, that’s impossible to do from your bedroom. Online college just isn’t about the learning, doing the readings or studying this is definitely a lot more. And they haven’t got any of that experience. So I can’t imagine how hard it is for them.


Shauna: [00:10:02] Yeah, I think that I could not imagine me going into first year when I was eighteen, not being able to see anyone because, you know, I didn’t know anyone when I moved down here. And you’re just in a class on Zoom and you have to try to make friends on Zoom like they don’t. What they’ve missed out on, if that makes sense, they don’t know that there is a whole new side to college that is so good for them that


Orla: [00:10:30] It’s so important.


Shauna: [00:10:32] It’s so important. It makes, I think, first year. I mean, I think of, you know, and we are different people.


Orla: [00:10:38] We are. And I don’t think it’s because of the things I learned in classrooms or tutorials or labs. It’s definitely things I figured I as I’ve lived on my own, as I’ve separated from my parents and things like that,


Shauna: [00:10:50] All of it, you know, kind of makes you and shapes you so that you can, I guess, handle the world when you leave college. You know, like you have a bit of a backbone. You have a bit of common sense.


Orla: [00:11:03] I also recently, just today, seen an article going around saying basically saying that marijuana was the biggest threat to young people’s mental health. Number one, I think everyone’s living with their parents at the minute, like there’s a, there’s a housing crisis. How can you move? I know there’s, like it’s impossible for young people to move out and they’re living with their parents, you know, and not to mention the fact that we have the imminent danger of climate change. We’re living through a global pandemic. Yeah, and we are bombarded by social media. But it’s marijuana. Yeah. It’s like your six month waiting on a psychologist appointment. Any time you get sent to these mental health charities, which should not be charities, they should they…


Shauna: [00:11:56] Should not be.


Orla: [00:11:57] Mental health services. And you get sent to them and they have certain religious ethos behind them


Shauna: [00:12:04] Or a certain number of sessions. Again, you know, and then where do you go?


Orla: [00:12:09] You get six sessions within, like, the university. And I know that there’s a lot of students to deal with, but you get six sessions. You know, these are the student services that you’re paying with your three and a half grand and then on top with your shit and then you get like six sessions and then you’re sent away. And if that can help what not, it might help some people. And I’m sure it does. And it’s not the fault of any one of the brilliant people that work in the student counseling service. Yeah, but it’s just that I think mental health is definitely ignored anyway. And without having the services, there is just going to get increasingly worse and it’s just going to be passed down through generation to generation because or people know how to deal with their mental health, know how to practice mindfulness, something that you can let your anger out on from a young age, not when it becomes a problem. It shouldn’t be a cure. It should just be a practice that’s embedded in your life.


Shauna: [00:13:08] Learn about healthy eating in school. Food dudes come along if you choose healthy eating. We learn about fitness in school PE. And yet it’s always, always. There’s just this absence of like, teaching yourself how to take care of your mind, like how to take care when you feel things just aren’t right, you know.


Orla: [00:13:28] Yeah, definitely. And there always has to be like, this bigger problem, this bigger underlying problem, why you have mental health issues when sometimes you actually just don’t know how to deal with college stress.


Shauna: [00:13:43] Yeah, yeah. A global pandemic would do it. And I think also like there’s such a, I guess, misunderstanding with mental health that people think it’s either triggered by trauma or you are going through a stressful time. But like it it is literally physically a chemical imbalance. And sometimes nothing can happen in your life and you just develop a mental you just like it, you just have it. And there’s not anything that could have stopped it. And there’s nothing that, you know, like there’s so it’s just a misunderstanding that people only get it if they have a bad life, which I just think we should be over this by now. We should have known and should know this.


Orla: [00:14:27] I do wonder, has it, like, changed, you know, anywhere else? Is it that we’re just so far behind or is the same story everywhere?


Shauna: [00:14:36] Yeah, and I hope that in this, you know, like there’s a lot of talk now of we’re getting students back on campus. We’re making sure that the Leaving Cert is next year is all going to be sorted. You know, we’re making sure all these students are going to be well taken care of by next September. I hope that in those plans there is a big plan for the amount of issues that are going to come out of the pandemic and the amount of people that are going to need help. And they’re going to be struggling because they’re already struggling. But people are having them. Wait, wait a bit. It’s still a pandemic. Wait a bit. A lot of people can’t wait.


Orla: [00:15:12] You know, I suppose with all the negativity that this podcast has brought to all of our listeners is definitely. Important thing, I think it’s important to say that, you know, there are brighter times ahead if you are struggling with your mental health. There are people out there that can help, you know, reach out to your friends, make sure that they’re doing OK. Having a bad day doesn’t mean that you’re you know, you’re not doing well and that healing is not linear.


Shauna: [00:15:45] And you don’t let these articles or these opinions ruin what you’ve got going on.


Orla: [00:15:53] You know, don’t know. And if you are struggling, do not forget to text 50808 for any help that you may need.

Shauna: [00:16:04] Thanks, everyone, so much for listening. This has been Shaunaand Orla, and if you want to find out more about the work of STAND, check




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Philanthropy is great, but paying your taxes is better

Philanthropy is great, but paying your taxes is better

Philanthropy is great, but paying your taxes is better

hand putting red heart into box
Megan Carey

12th May 2021


My English teacher once told me “charity is not justice, politics is. Considering I was 15 and thought donating to a Trócaire box once in a while was my gift to the world, it did not register with me at the time. But now, it all makes sense. When we think of philanthropy, we think Bob Geldof and his Live Aid; we think of Chuck Feeny and his work with Amnesty; and we even think of U2’s Bono, who has involved himself in pretty much anything to do with giving back. Except, it seems, when paying his taxes. 


In 2006, Bono decided to move his tax affairs from Ireland to the Netherlands, and essentially committed tax avoidance. While you may put this down to his own personal choice, Christian Aid estimated that $160 billion is lost to the developing world when funds are moved from poorer countries to tax havens.  


This is a critical element that has been forgotten about in the narrative of poverty, a one-dimensional story of poverty, might I add, that makes us believe all African children aren’t educated, don’t have TVs, and have no quality of life at all except the strive to survive. So often, people refer to Africa as if it is one country and not made up of 54 different countries with different cultural identities. There is but one story we know of Africa and it was made up by us, for us. 


Don’t get me wrong – philanthropy saves lives. It creates awareness for issues that would never have made it to our media otherwise. It raises vital funds for people’s survival. It even assists in conflict resolution. These famous artists and creators that use their platform to spread an important social message is something people should always admire. The problem is it’s simply the wrong message. 


If you were to think about poverty, we often imagine a lack of funds for education, or perhaps lack of resources for healthcare, all originating from a corrupt government, civil conflict, or even resulting from environment disasters. However, the most detrimental consequence to the developing world is the unbalanced wealth distribution and extraction.


“Consider the 5:50:500 rule, in which $5 billion is given in voluntary aid, $50 billion is given in Official Development Assistance and $500 billion is taken from developing countries and handed back to developed countries.”

So, no matter the good intentions of these good Samaritans, who use their time and money to broadcast live events and massive projects that conjure up millions for charities, we still remain at only surface-level solutions. How do we become better and do better? 


This is the struggle. To become better global citizens, we must reflect on historical interventions of international aid. We must understand that throwing money at a problem only gets it so far. We must look at the aid that does work, like sustainable development aid, or development education programmes which provide new knowledge to these communities which our current approach is so deeply lacking. 


More often than not, we decide to help people without even asking what exact help it is they need. We think that we know best for communities we know nothing about. It is ethnocentric, and it’s wrong. Worse of all, people with privilege turn a blind eye to tax fraud or the movement of people’s investments to different accounts and countries. We brush it off as a mere business choice, but pay little attention to what it is actually doing to our world. It is making sure that the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor and continuously widening the gap between these constructs. 


To become better, we must become  global-readers and become globally aware. We must understand the danger of single-sided stories by making ourselves aware that these narratives  are blocking us from recognising the true reasons why poverty thrives in our societies 


Yes, philanthropy is great. But paying your taxes is so much better. 





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This article was supported by: STAND Opinion Editor Olivia + Programme Assistant Rachel