GAA clubs to participate in mental health support programme

Every GAA club in Waterford will have a designated officer for an innovative health and well-being programme to support people experiencing addiction, depression, or other mental health problems.

A smartphone app, a health and well-being conference, and a schools outreach programme are among the elements of a new partnership between the GAA and a multinational healthcare company, to deliver awareness of the services and supports available. The partnership is between Waterford GAA county board and locally based biotechnology giant Genzyme.

Players and GAA members, along with the wider communities in which the 49 clubs are based, will be able to avail of the awareness programme.

Along with promoting existing supports for those of any age or background who are in distress, the Waterford partnership plans to develop a smartphone app, capturing relevant points of contact for those in difficulty.

Also planned is an outreach programme for schools and colleges.

A health and well-being conference will be held at Genzyme Waterford on November 28 that will bring together leading figures in the GAA and the health promotion sector nationally, to share best practice and plan for the future.

It is also expected that the programme will draw on an award-winning resilience programme developed within Genzyme Waterford.

Chairman of Waterford GAA board Paddy Joe Ryan said they were delighted to partner with Genzyme.

“This company is one of Waterford’s biggest employers and they have been recognised nationally as a great place to work,” he said.

“The project management expertise and resources that they can bring to the table will be a powerful combination when taken alongside the huge team of volunteers that we have in every part of Waterford.”

Gavin O’Brien, head of human resources with Genzyme Waterford, said: “This partnership with the custodians of Ireland’s national games is very exciting for us and has tremendous potential to reach vulnerable people with information that supports them when they’re having a tough time.”

He said the GAA has a “terrific reach” into every community and that will be one of the keys for the Waterford programme.

“For someone experiencing a personal crisis, very simple but timely interventions can make a huge difference,” he said. “Our hope is that this programme can help people be better informed about the helps and supports that exist.”


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