The Gaelic Players Association has announced that the number of county players accessing their confidential counselling service trebled in 2013.
The sharp rise in players enlisting for help was revealed as part of the Association’s annual review of the service, which provides a dedicated members’ phone line, one-to-one counselling and residential treatment for players suffering distress in their lives.
Players such as Alan McNamee and Conor Cusack have spoken openly about their personal battles and today published figures have indicated that 94 players had engaged with the service by the end of October 2013, more than double the figure for the corresponding time period last year.
While the GPA service is strictly confidential, but trends are articulated by the counsellors, showing that depression and gambling addiction represent over half of the cases presented in 2013. Three players have also received residential treatment care for addiction issues.
The review also highlighted the availability of the programme throughout the Christmas holidays – including Christmas day – and to outline the GPA’s internal mental health campaign for 2014.
“We have published this short review of our Mental Health Programme today firstly to highlight the increase in the level of engagement from county players with this service,” said Chief Executive Dessie Farrell.
“We also want to indicate our intention to establish a specific campaign in 2014 aimed at encouraging players to engage with our mental health program and services with a focus on changing the culture within our membership.”
Farrell also added that the death of Galway hurler Niall Donohue has increased the need to publicise the services available to GAA players.
“The death by suicide of Galway’s Niall Donohue has sharpened the focus on our challenge. We know we must redouble our efforts to make sure that the young men in society struggling with distress are encouraged to engage with support, that we hear the call and recognise the signs of their distress.”