Aaron Callaghan: Mental Health… Let’s talk about it

Mental Health & Well Being is a topic that has been splashed in all the print media and radio platforms over the last few weeks.

It is a taboo subject in most families and communities and can be even more difficult as a professional athlete.

I was sad to hear of Mickey Drennan’s plight with mental health issues while playing for Shamrock Rovers. This is a very difficult time for Mickey and his family but the courage he has shown by highlighting this hugely under resourced illness is incredible. Mickey does not know the impact he will have on other professional or amateur players across this Country.

By highlighting mental health as an illness and acknowledging he needs help will give great comfort and support to other players and indeed society in general.

As a manager I have witnessed the devastation this illness can have on players at various stages along their professional journey.

Niall Quinn has spoken out about how hard it is to suddenly stop playing a game you are involved in for the best part of 25 years and I can vouch for this sudden stoppage.

One minute you are chasing players around a pitch and the next minute it’s all over. That’s one of the reasons I got involved in management and coaching to keep me involved in the game I loved.

But you can never replace been out on the park come kick off.

The stats are alarming to say the least.

Every year one person in ten will experience depression or anxiety disorder.

This often follows trauma or upset and is more likely with stress. Depression can affect anyone at any age and at any time.

Depression can happen suddenly as a result of physical illness, unemployment, bereavement, family problems or other life changing events.

Retiring at 35 years is a big shock to your self esteem for any professional athlete.

Living with depression is difficult for those who experience it and for their family, friends and colleagues.

Fortunately in our soccer bubble there is a great deal of professional support on hand to allow the players to talk to somebody.

Most people will recover from depression with the right support and/or treatment.

The PFAI under the leadership of Stephen McGuiness are actively involved in tackling and highlighting Mental Health across the football sector and any player past or present that needs someone to talk to can contact Stephen on this link http://www.pfai.ie/mens-health.

I have been working with a very good friend of mine over the last few years Joe McGuire to highlight and promote Mental Well being and suicide prevention through www.talkaboutit.ie, a national voluntary organisation based in Mayo, which raises awareness of suicide and depression in Ireland by simply talking about it.

They aim to make suicide prevention, and positive mental health, a frontline issue in political forums in Ireland, and raise awareness of the help that is out there.

Joe is one of those unsung heroes who work away in the background of a voluntary organisation changing people’s lives.

I used to think legends were players that I played against or indeed looked up to as a young kid growing up in Lucan.

Joe and other colleagues of his working in these National Voluntary Organisations are the real Legends.

So let’s keep an eye on all are friends and family out there and help raise awareness to support positive mental health. The Irish in general are good at talking so LETS TALK ABOUT IT…

The various services Joe Maguire’s team promote include:

Samaritans 1850 609 090.
AWARE helping to defeat depression 1890 303 302.
1LIFE suicide helpline 1800 247 100. CONSOLE living with suicide 1800 201 77 88 88
CHILDLINE listens to children 1800 66 66 66

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