'It's okay not to feel okay' - Cavan club launches the GAA's first Mental Health policy
Kingscourt Stars GAA club in Cavan has made history by becoming the first club to launch a Mental Health Policy, with their club chairman saying it is badly needed in light of recent tragedies.
The club and community has been affected by depression and suicide and the policy has been introduced so that members will look out for each other, to help each other and to know that it's okay not to feel okay.
Club chairman Philip Smith has said that the policy has been introduced because of the serious developments in the area.
"We had a number of tragedies over the past few years," he told Elaine Byrne on RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland programme at the official launch.
"From former players, members and up until quite recently we had one fatality and one near miss. I think that was the catalyst to do the mental health policy."
We knew there was an initiative and it was outlined that we would be the first club in the GAA to do it. It's very important that we implement it. We see that there is a need for it."
"Maybe we can help in some way."
The Association has said that they hope each club will appoint a Health and Well-being officer and incoming GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail said that this is the latest issue being tackled.
"I think that the GAA has a reach everywhere for Irish people."
"We have responded in the last 10 years to alcohol and substance abuse. We are constantly moving with these issues. It's part of what the GAA is about," he added.
Mother-of-five Ruth Sheehan McCabe, who lost her husband Sean last year through suicide, spoke at the launch at the importance of tackling the stigma attached to getting help.
"The more awareness is raised about depression and mental health issues the better."
"There is still a big stigma around these issues, particularly among a certain age group. My husband was 44 and for a man of that age, pride is an issue.
"It's worth speaking about and that's what I intend doing for the rest of my days."
Last May Cavan goalkeeper Alan O’Meara lifted the on the depression which engulfed him and revealed that he was rescued from suicidal thoughts by "the visualisation of my parents at my funeral".
His dark story painted a stark picture with one particular passage recalling a journey made after a challenge match in December 2011.
“There is nothing to catch my attention on this road; nothing to distract my brain.”
“It's just me in the car, me and the voice that has become more and more prominent lately. It is getting louder. It gets to the point where it muffles out the radio. I keep driving. I keep thinking, questioning and wondering.”