This week has seen the Mayo Mental Health Association and Mayo GAA come together to educate the county’s u16 football and hurling teams about mental health. The camp in MacHale Park saw some 60 u16 players across both sports engage in the three day training camp that saw their time split between action on the field and learning about taking action off the field to deal with mental health issues that may affect them.
The camp was overseen by the coaching officers from Mayo GAA with Niall Dunne, himself a former underage Mayo player from the Mayo Mental Health Association, leading and organising a number of workshops for the players over the three days.
Padraig Carolan, Mayo GAA coaching officer, praised the work of the Mayo Mental Health Association, saying: “They are great organisation who have come together on a voluntary basis to help the community and to help people in the community. The session we had on Tuesday with Niall was very interesting and everyone took a lot from it. Everyone was so engaged in the session, and the interest the young people took in the session was great, I was amazed that they were all so engaged in it.”
PJ Murphy, chairperson of Mayo Mental Health Association, said the organisation was delighted to be involved with the project, saying: “How necessary it is for us to be involved with young people, because Mayo Mental Health Association’s main aim is to promote positive mental health among young people and we’re doing this in a variety of ways and we have been doing that over the three days here.”
Mayo GAA games officer, Billy McNicholas, praised the work done by the association, saying: “It’s great to be associated with this programme, as we work through the system with players as they get older, we do come across players with issues and problems, and through this course we have a greater understanding of that now. It’s a thing that with men if they have an issue they keep it to themselves and we don’t want to talk about it to anybody else and think it’s a sign of weakness, but the key is to talk and we tell our players that.”
Mr Carolan, who works with the HSE in his day job, also said during the week that progress was being made on opening a drop in centre in Castlebar in association with Mayo Mental Health. He said: “We are developing a facility in Castlebar to support mental health among young people experiencing mental health problems between the age of 15 and 25. Currently if a young person has a problem their main route to help is through their GP, and on from there. There is still a bit of a stigma about mental health, especially in this part of the country and especially among young men, we need to get over that and beyond that, and this facility will give an opportunity where we will have two or three clinical professionals. The biggest step some young person will have to take when they come to that door is to open it. We hope to open that facility in September or October.”