The Stress Control programme was opened by Minister of State Kathleen Lynch and attended by representatives of the two clubs which will facilitate stress control programmes, St Finbarr’s and Midleton, as well as members of the Cork County Board.
Colin Regan, the GAA Community and Health Promotion Manager, welcomed the initiative, saying: “This has rolled out from the GAA Healthy Club project, which we launched in Croke Park back in March 2013.
“We put a call out then to all GAA clubs in the country who wanted to get involved in putting health at the heart of the club and to bring that out to the communities.
“About 64 clubs applied to that programme and we selected four from each province as well as two mentoring clubs.
“One of those was St Finbarr’s of Cork — along with St. Peter’s up in Warrenpoint — and the reason they were selected was because they were doing so much already within their communities.
“They were an excellent benchmark.”
Referring to the programme unveiled yesterday, Regan said the Health Services Executive had been keen to get involved with the Association.
“Midleton and St Finbarr’s, along with our team in Croke Park, have drawn out a plan as to how best they can respond to their members’ needs and the needs of their community — the health needs in the broadest sense.
“We tend to have a narrow view of health in terms of physical health, and sometimes in terms of mental health as well, and when the HSE became aware of the healthy club programme they were keen to get involved.”
Regan said GAA members like Conor Cusack, who spoke at yesterday’s launch, were encouraging debate on mental health in the wider community.
“When you have people like Conor willing to speak up,” said Regan, “And (Cavan goalkeeper) Alan O’Mara, who wrote about his experience of depression, the reaction we got in Croke Park was noticeable — the increase in calls and so forth. First and foremost we’re a sporting organisation but we’re also a community organisation. This is new territory for us, though, so we were keen to involve the experts in this particular field, which meant getting the HSE on board. Our strength is in providing role models like Conor and Alan, and to providing access to groups such as males aged 18-40, which would be our core cohort. If we can be a conduit for conveying these messages, that’ll benefit everyone in the long run.”
* The Stress Control programme will be held on six consecutive Wednesday evenings from January 29 to March 5 2014 (inclusive) from 7.30 – 9pm. People who wish to attend have a choice of venue and can either register to do the course in Midleton Park Hotel, Cork Rd., Midleton or St. Finbarr’s GAA Club, Neenan Park, Togher, Cork. There is more information available from CorkBeatsStress@hse.ie and from 0867871016.