18 Aug 2022

Playbook from Limerick writer could be a teen’s most important book 

Playbook from Limerick writer could be a teen’s most important book 

Victoria Howell-Connolly with the Teenage Playbook Journal

EXPERIENCES of teenage mental health made Victoria Howell-Connolly think “someone needs to do something” so she looked in the mirror.

The result is the Teenage Playbook Journal – an interactive student journal for 2021 / 2022 

Mental health issues have touched the working and personal life of Victoria. She works for Munster Regional Control for the Irish Fire Service who have been “incredibly supportive”.

“As you can imagine in my line of work I come across the unfortunate consequences of poor mental health on a frequent basis. I have a background in psychology, coaching and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Last year, I became aware of a young person who unfortunately became another victim of poor teenage mental health.

“I found myself saying as many people do, 'Someone needs to do something'. I had a penny drop moment where I thought, ‘I am someone – someone with psychology, coaching and CBT background so why don't I do something.”

So Victoria undertook the mammoth task of bringing together years of study and research and created the Teenage Playbook Journal.

It is geared for 12 to 16 year-olds and is aligned with the Junior Certificate Keyskills programme and Gaisce awards key competencies.

It follows the school year from September to June with lots of tips, advice, goals and prompts. There is space for daily entries on get up and bed times; physical activity; mood; pit (worst thing that happened) and peak of the day.

Victoria is a big believer in “prevention is better than cure”.

“This journal is appropriate for teens who may not be suffering at all with their mental health at present but it provides a skillset for them in the future should they begin to struggle. I called it the Playbook because every coach uses plays to get them through the game and I believe it's much the same with life – we all need 'plays' to get us through. It could be sports, music, writing etc. 

“Psych research ran various studies wherein results proved that journaling reduced symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression by up to 80%. That and every psych / counsellor/ CBT professional will ask their patients to start a journal at their very first appointment. My question to everyone would be why wait until then? Why wait until the horse has already bolted?”

Victoria hopes this journal will provide teens with an outlet. 

“It's not always easy to say out loud what’s on your mind, sometimes you just want to vent. I would hope that it would provide users with a greater sense of self awareness and self development, and I would hope it would provide teens with a habit of journaling – getting things of their chest so to speak. Vent it out early and it may not become a big mountain of a problem.”

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