‘Everyone’s nervous’: Derry girls of today talk about what it’s like to grow up there

Anxiety and depression amongst young people are 25 per cent higher than the rest of the UK

Derry Girls alone has done more than the British education system has ever done to teach us about the history of Northern Ireland. 

Now as part of a Channel 4 documentary, Derry Girls star, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell who plays Michelle has gone back to her hometown to talk to the Derry girls of today about what it’s really like to grow up in the area. 

More than 90 per cent of children in Northern Ireland are still educated in schools which are divided along religious lines.

Jamie-Lee visited her old all-girls Catholic school, St Cecillia’s College and asked if the girls there mixed with Protestants at all: “No, it’s not voluntary though, we just happen to be surrounded by our own people.”

The Real Derry: Jamie-Lee O’Donnell is available to stream on All 4

The girls there said though that they believe the divisions aren’t along religious lines but political and cultural lines. 

Many of the girls agreed there wasn’t a healthy space to discuss those issues. Especially in Derry compared to other places in Northern Ireland where the girls believe people “politicise it more” and are “more standoffish”. 

The impact of The Troubles can still be felt by this generation of Derry girls who say “everyone in Derry’s nervous”.

One girl also claims that high levels of mental health issues in Northern Ireland are a result of it being “passed down through trauma”. Recent studies suggest Northern Ireland has the highest prevalence of mental health problems in the UK and that anxiety and depression amongst young people are 25 per cent higher than the rest of the UK.

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