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We can never do enough to highlight and assist mental health awareness

Liam Beckett


Liam Beckett with Peter Canavan at last week's charity fundraiser

Liam Beckett with Peter Canavan at last week's charity fundraiser

Liam Beckett with Peter Canavan at last week's charity fundraiser

Last weekend, I was part of a gala dinner at the splendid Glenavon Hotel in Cookstown.

The evening was staged to support four local cross-community charities - St Vincent De Paul, Kildress Health Matters, Superstars and Cookstown MS Health & Support Group.

My part in the event was to take to the stage alongside former Tyrone GAA All-Star Peter Canavan in a Q&A session hosted by compère Seamus McNally.

It was during this section of the night that it really struck home to me that all of us in sport can play a much greater role than what we currently do - not just in charity fundraising but also by using our extremely privileged positions to help do more in raising mental health awareness.

Obviously the gentleman Mr Canavan and myself come from very different sporting backgrounds but, regardless of that, the message was clear - we in sport must do more, full stop.

Mental health knows no bounds; it affects all ages, classes and creeds and no one is exempt from this illness.

I am already involved as an ambassador for the Samaritans, a role I have held now for the best part of 10 years, and believe me I know exactly the demands currently being placed on this organisation and its volunteers on a daily basis.

I try to do as much other awareness work as I think I can cope with, but it's not and never can be enough.

No ifs or buts, we've all got to do more.

With depression tendencies at an all-time high and suicides on the increase, particularly and worryingly amongst the young, we are all duty-bound to help.

Of course every time a tragedy regrettably happens, everyone is full of initial shock and the general consensus is that we need to do more to address the problem of mental health awareness and then to help offer proper counselling advice and guidance.

We are all guilty of talking a good game at times and perhaps we can all be a tad hasty or judgmental on many issues, but sometimes a lot of hot air surrounded by good intentions is expelled in times of shock and sadness.

Once the dust settles and that initial shock begins to fade, alas so do many of those good intentions.

Most of us will decide just to leave it to others to deal with but most of those others will be thinking exactly the same.

Fortunately we do have some excellent mental health awareness groups already at work and actively involved in sport but quite clearly it is not enough.

All of our sports' governing bodies and clubs must raise their game if this current epidemic is to be at least contained and then, hopefully, sometime properly cured - and all of us individuals must do likewise.

It was one specific question from the floor last weekend to myself and Peter which raised a very good point and therefore I am appealing to all others in sport to ask themselves this one very simple question - do you honestly feel they are doing all they possibly can to help solve this problem of mental health awareness?

Always remember that actions speak louder than words.

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Belfast Telegraph