Pictured above: Jim Bolger (Chairperson of Leinster GAA Council); Fiona Murphy (HSE Lead Health & Wellbeing); Cllr Gerry O Connor (Cathaorleach Meath Co Co); along with Mary Murphy (Co-ordinator Meath LSP) and members of the Meath GAA Health & Wellbeing committee.
According to Jim Bolger, Chairman of the GAA Leinster Council – Meath GAA Health & Wellbeing committee are leading the way in terms of delivery of initiatives back to local clubs. He was speaking at the launch of the Meath GAA Health & Wellbeing Mental Health information boards in the Centre of Excellence, Dunganny on Monday 19th February.
In a crowd of over 120 attendees, representatives from the 59 GAA clubs were present to accept their club information board. The information boards represent the work of the Meath Health & Wellbeing committee, Meath Local Sports Partnership and the HSE. The 3 organisations collaboratively worked together in designing the boards which will be displayed prominently within all of the GAA clubs.
Chairperson of Meath Health & Wellbeing committee, Andy Fahy complemented the work of the various partners involved in the project , going on to say that the committee recognised that the mental health issues which affect our families and local communities don`t just happen between the hrs of 9 to 5. The information boards are designed to provide local communities and club health & wellbeing officers with the tools to be able to signpost people to a range of services which may provide them with the immediate assistance they require. Andy recommended that all boards be placed in areas which were accessible to all who visited the local club.
Mary Murphy, Sports Coordinator speaking on behalf of Meath Local Sports Partnership pointed out that under the Healthy Ireland framework piece which every government department have signed up, positive mental health and wellbeing is the responsibility of everyone. The anticipated end result of this Healthy Ireland plan (2025) provides for a healthier nation through cultural change, operational change and mindset change.
She went on to state that “everyone has a role to play in taking care of our physical and mental health, its collective responsibility. The Meath GAA Health & Wellbeing committee accepts their role in achieving this desired outcome & view the information boards as going in some way to meeting this objective. The boards are designed to capture the services which provide support to the different ages across the lifespan and to signpost individuals presenting with mental health issues, or their families or friends to available support services which can assist them. All too often we hear the term “they didn`t know where to turn for help, or they had no one to talk to” – hopefully by making this information accessible through the local GAA clubs we will provide that necessary support or direction.”
Speaking on behalf of the HSE, Fiona Murphy (HSE Lead Health & Wellbeing in Meath, Louth & Midlands) stressed the importance of working in partnership with communities, voluntary groups and sports organisations in the first instance to prevent chronic disease, addiction and mental health issues. She acknowledged the work Meath LSP has done in pioneering programs which have enabled people marginalised by their mental health difficulties participate in sport and take steps back into their communities through the medium of sport and physical activity.
Fiona stated that the GAA & HSE have been working together to normalise the conversation around mental health in recent years. While we talk about improving resilience and supporting wellbeing, there are times when people need to access support and we want to be able to signpost them to services and organisations which can assist them deal with whatever situation they are in whether its mental health issues, addiction, loneliness, financial problems etc. The HSE are firmly behind this initiative, highlighting in county Meath that they are interested in and value peoples wellbeing and are here to support our communities when life isn`t plain sailing.
The information boards were officially launched by Jim Bolger with county Chairperson Peter O Halloran bringing the evening to a close.
Pictured above: Front – Jim Bolger (Chairperson of Leinster GAA Council); Fiona Murphy (HSE Lead Health & Wellbeing); Cllr Gerry O Connor (Cathaorleach Meath Co Co); Andy Fahy (Chairperson Meath GAA Health & Wellbeing committee); Back – Mary Murphy (Co-ordinator Meath LSP); with agency reps from Mental Health Ireland, Samaritans, SHINE & Outcomers.