SO many times over the last year we’ve heard about the damage that this pandemic is having on peoples mental health. The Fermanagh minor football team have decided to turn a negative into a positive with their month-long campaign ‘It’s Not Minor-It Matters’ to raise awareness around the issue of mental health and wellbeing.
Over the next month these young men will run marathons, walk with family members, lift the phone and ring a friend, do push-ups and press-ups, yoga and mindfulness as they focus on their own mental health and try to encourage those around them to also take part.
The campaign centres on the number ‘five’ because statistics show that one in five people in Ireland suffer a serious mental health illness at some stage in their lives.
Donegal All Ireland winner Mark McHugh is part of the Fermanagh minor (and Under-20) management team and while the stop-start nature of sport over the last year has brought its own difficulties on the pitch, off the pitch it has been more telling, says the Kilcar man.
“I might not say it to them too often, I can see a big dip in their moods and motivation. They’re all getting fed up and they’re all suffering through the lockdown. There are specific individuals that I would be worried about.
“At the start of this pandemic, I think everyone was worried about the elderly and about keeping them safe but they have life experience. But you see the young people, that’s who I am worried about now. They’re not back at school yet, they’ve been off for so long and it’s nearly a year and a half, which is a big chunk out of their young lives. All we can do is try our best for them and keep them focused on something.”
With the help of Colm Bradley and Gerard O’Brien, McHugh and manager Maurice McLaughlin have welcomed with open arms the current initiative.
“For the next four weeks, while it maintains our fitness with the runs and the marathons and the exercise , it gives them a purpose as to why they’re doing it because they don’t know when their games are going to go ahead.”
The Fermanagh minor team released a video promoting the campaign which has been far-reaching on social media platforms. Each player recorded a line for the video as part of their overall mental health message and McHugh says each of them were really enthusiastic about recording it.
“We started it yesterday (Sunday) with a yoga class online and we have a mindfulness with Anthony McGrath from Donegal tonight (Monday)- just basically visualisation and meditation and we’ll obviously be doing the runs. We have gym classes set up and each week I’m going to give them a partner within the team and they have to call that person or meet for a socially distant walk where they can talk and listen.”
Along with raising awareness and having a positive impact on these players, it is hoped that they will raise money for their two chosen charities, New Horizons Action Mental Health Fermanagh and Samaritans Ireland.
For more details on the initiative and to take part in some of the activities or for information on how to donate, visit Fermanagh GAA’s social media channels.
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Posted: 4:30 pm March 10, 2021