GAA stars deserve our added respect for urging young men seek help about their problems and look after their mental health. Already the Gaelic Players Association (GPA), has teamed up with Pieta House and Headstrong, the national centre for youth mental health and runs a national counselling service staffed by psychologists.
Cork senior footballer Eoin Cadogan, an ambassador for Pieta House, the suicide crisis charity, said last week that there is nothing wrong with “opening up”.
He was speaking after the tragic death of Galway hurler Niall Donoghue. In a story by Irish Examiner reporter Catherine Shanahan, Mr Cadogan said the public perception was often that intercounty players had it all, “playing for their county, something they’ve dreamed of since they were young fellas, and in the prime of their health. But the reality is they have problems to deal with the same as everyone else.
“It’s not just something that’s confined to the intercounty scene,” he said. “It’s men in general. We’re stubborn, we don’t like talking about our feelings.
Neil McDonagh, cousin of the deceased Galway hurler, urged mourners at Niall’s funeral to “be brave enough to talk”.
And former Cork hurler Conor Cusack urged those suffering from mental health issues to “take the first step”. Conor Cusack wrote online about his own fight with depression and said there was “no situation that is without hope, there is no person that can’t overcome their present difficulties”.
“For those that are suffering silently, there is help out there and you are definitely not alone. Everything you need to succeed is already within you and you have all the answers to your own issues. A good therapist will facilitate that process. “My mother always says ‘a man’s courage is his greatest asset’. It is an act of courage and strength, not weakness, to admit you are struggling to face up to your problems.”