Mayo footballer Tom Parsons is encouraging people who may be struggling with their mental health to ‘reach out, speak up, and talk to somebody’.
Parsons was speaking at the launch of a new pocket-sized information card that has been produced by Mindspace Mayo in association with Mayo GAA, its charity partner, that aims to try and help improve people’s mental health and wellbeing.
The card will be distributed to GAA club members in the county over the coming weeks. "You’re only human if you’ve felt the stressors of the last few months that have come with the current world we live in,” said Tom Parsons.
"So many people have uncertainty over the future of their work, health uncertainties, stress, a lack of social interaction or isolation. So I think it’s really topical right now and I’m really proud to be involved with Mindspace and Mayo GAA to help promote this campaign.
"It’s ok to talk. It’s okay not to be okay,” he added. “They are the key messages for me. Everybody has different stressors and the first thing you have to realise is that you’re human, and that you need to have a conversation and trust your family members or friends or team-mates.
"If you are struggling with your mental health, speak up and talk to somebody. Reach out to people and have that conversation.
"That’s something I’ve learned over the years playing with Mayo, whether it’s losing a big game or being released from a squad or picking up an injury, I kept all of that to myself. I wouldn’t talk about it. It’s only in the last few years, when those disappointments hit, that my mental health was affected through stress or worry or uncertainty about what was ahead.
"But when I reached out to my team-mates or my family and had that conversation, it was invaluable. And that’s the very first step. So for World Mental Health week, if anybody is struggling out there, have a conversation with somebody and realise that it’s ok to talk.”
The information campaign coincides with World Mental Health Day which takes place tomorrow Saturday, October 10, a day for people to take some time to learn more about their mental health and wellbeing, and the services in the community that can better support them in this regard.
"We know that the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown which followed has been challenging and difficult for so many people, and there has been an increase in those suffering from mental health issues,” said Peadar Gardiner, Mindspace Mayo Project Manager.
"Throughout these last few months we have been continuing to engage with young people in our community who might need us, and we wanted to ensure that the wider community had some self-help tips to help promote positive mental wellbeing, as well as sharing some useful contact details if they need some further support.
"The leaflets will be distributed to Mayo GAA clubs over the coming weeks and will also be featured on the Mayo GAA website and social media channels.
"Hopefully the information will be something that members find useful either for themselves, or to pass on to family and friends who may benefit as well."
Mayo GAA chairperson Liam Moffatt said that the County Board was only too happy to help raise awareness and support this vital mental health initiative during these unprecedented times, saying "Mayo GAA are proud to support the work of our charity partner, Mindspace Mayo and are delighted to be able to help out in this way.
"We recognise this has been a difficult time for a lot of people so distributing information about improving mental health and wellbeing to our patrons can help those who may feel they need that extra bit of guidance or advice."