The month of October has been designated as the World Mental Health Awareness month. Ireland has a particular problem with mental illness, and has some of the highest rates of suicide in young males in the European Union.
Some issues that are of concern to men are;
- Men have a history of not been expected to verbalise emotions
- To speak up, could be perceived as weak
- Large number of men suffer in silence
These are some reasons, why men have a greater need for mental health intervention
People sometimes use sport as part of the coping mechanism. Sport can be a useful contrivance to maintain physical fitness levels, and to have the structures to keep on top of academic/work life. It has many advantages to being part of a team.
However, an athlete on a team is not immune to the stress and mental disorders faced by the general public.
- Physical training
- Important matches/competitions
- Time away from family
The GAA has tried to address some of these issues with their Mental Health charter, with their Give Respect, Get respect, promotion and their Play in my boots concept.
Some prominent GAA players have also put their voice to the struggles that they were encountering, including Shane Carty Dublin Inter-county Football Player who has 6 All Ireland Football Titles. In his very candid book, Dark Blue, Shane has said “It was a week after winning the All Ireland, I went straight back down to earth, I was having these thoughts of ending my life”
Shane credits the turnaround in his mental health situation after having a frank conversation with Dessie Farrell, who had worked as a psychiatric nurse and had previously been open about his own battle with depression.
In a different sporting sphere, Paul Gleghorne, Irish International Hockey Player and 2016 Olympian, who has over 200 caps for Ireland, has also been a positive advocate for mental health awareness.
Paul has said that “If I had a match and made a mistake, I’d obsess over that one mistake for a long time”, and this was an ongoing and private battle for Paul. He reiterated the point when he openly said.
“When I was 14, I started having those thoughts of self-harm and ending my life.
With all sport, if a player internalises his anguish, it can have profound consequences for their mental health wellbeing. A player can be afraid of the societal issues, that people would not really believe that they were suffering because it was not a physical injury, and think less of them, for it.
The hardest step is to actually go and talk to somebody. High profile people like Intercountry GAA players or Premiership soccer players are coming out and saying it, when they have struggled with their mental health, which just shows it can affect anyone
Don’t be afraid to talk, I know it’s the cliché, and the hardest thing to do is talk .There is help available.
To speak to a Crisis Volunteer: Text HELLO to 50808
To reach Pieta House: Call 1800 247247 or text HELP to 51444
To reach the Samaritans: Call 116 123
If you are in immediate danger, call 999 or 112
At Killavullen GAA Club level, our healthy club ambassador is Helen Cagney – 085-704 1674.
Absolute discretion assured.