The National Football Exhibition teamed up with retired footballer Brian Lenihan and Pieta House for a talk on mental health in Cork.
The event took place at the Exhibition with an opportunity to hear Brian’s story which saw him retire from the game in 2017 due to mental health illness.
Darran Coyle Garde from Pieta House in Cork opened the evening and spoke about the services available through Pieta House and encouraged attendees to sign up for their main fundraiser Darkness into Light, which takes place in locations all around the world on May 11.
Lenihan, who represented the Republic of Ireland at underage level up to U-21’s, spoke about his battle with mental health illness and encouraged people to speak up and seek help.
“If speaking at the event here leads to one person getting help or becoming more aware of their own mental health and well-being, it will have been a worthwhile exercise,” said 24-year-old Lenihan.
“With my own illness, I am lucky to have gotten a second chance and hope to use it to help raise awareness of the great work being done by Pieta House and others. Football can be a very uncompromising industry and difficult environment for young players as they develop. I would encourage all players, parents and members of the public not to be afraid to speak up and seek help.”
Sports Psychologist James Claffey joined the discussion and spoke of his admiration for Brian and the importance of mental health amongst footballers and sports stars.
“I think it’s fantastic that the FAI are getting behind evenings like tonight and taking initiative in being proactive about players mental well-being,” said Claffey.
“Society can be naive in relation to mental illness until its on our own doorstep. Brian has shown amazing bravery to make his story public with his own battle with mental illness and hopefully he will pave the pathway for young people suffering in silence. Showing its “Okay not to be Okay”
Attendees included members from Lenihan’s former clubs College Corinthians and Cork City and his former school Presentation Brothers College. To find out more about the services offered by Pieta House, visit pieta.ie
Pieta House have a 24/7 phone line for anyone looking to talk – 1800 247 247.
The National Football Exhibition finishes up in Cork on Sunday, March 24 at 15:00. For more information about the exhibition, download The National Football Exhibition app from the App Store or Google Play Store.