Launching a series of youth mental health seminars for rugby clubs in the Midlands, Joe Schmidt, Head Coach of the Irish Rugby team welcomed the opportunity being given to coaches, trainers and parents to gain a better understanding of the issues involved in youth mental health enabling them to encourage positive mental health in young people…

Players train two or three times a week in an effort to improve their physical ability but the ‘Sport your Mind’ events encourages youngsters to understand that their mental health needs a work out from time to time as well. It’s great that Midlands Rugby clubs are hosting the delivery of these events by HSE Midlands Health Promotion & Improvement.”

I commend the clubs and officials participating in the programme. Collectively, they are helping to build awareness that we can all play a part in supporting the positive mental health of young people,” he added.

Sport your Mind’ introduces basic, foundational information on Youth Mental Health, suitable for community-active sports settings, highlighting early warning signs of mental health difficulties among young people and the range of support services available to young people in need of additional support

The series of Sport Your Mind events will commence in Longford on the 24th September, Mullingar on the 30th September, Birr on the 2nd October, Edenderry on the 7th October, and Tullamore on the 9th October.

Sport your Mind’ also includes the provision of Youth Support Cards, a Multi-Media Video Clip for young people highlighting key messages underpinning positive mental health and an ‘Improve Your Mood With Food’ Diet Sheet Created by HSE Senior Community Dietician for Dublin Mid-Leinster.

‘Sport your Mind’ also includes the delivery of SafeTALK (Suicide Alertness for Everyone); an internationally recognised workshop for communities to help prepare participants to identify people with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources.

Anthony O’Prey, Health Promotion Officer, Offaly Local Development Company/HSE said,All our awareness and skills training programmes, delivered free of charge, across the Midlands, increase an understanding of Positive Mental Health and Suicide Prevention as well as help people develop the capacity to give safeguarding support to people when difficulties arise.  Many sports organisations like the GAA and Leinster Rugby recognise the potential they have, to offer this support and this is why we welcome and support these organisations to build healthier, more resilient, suicide safe communities

Robert McDermott, Chairman of Midlands Rugby and Senior vice President of Leinster Rugby said, “We are delighted to support and promote the HSE “Sport Your Mind” Programme.  We strongly believe that sport has a key role to play, not just because of the strong link between physical and mental wellbeing, but because of the social benefits of involvement and feeling part of a wider community.  We welcome “Sport Your Mind” and urge all community active sports organisations to engage with these information workshops and work together in promoting positive mental health wellbeing.

We will continue to work with the HSE Midlands towards fostering positive mental health and resilience in our young people but also among the wider community,” he added.

Josephine Rigney, Acting Suicide Prevention Resource Officer, HSE Midlands said. “Targeted skills based intervention combined with raising awareness and providing information is fundamental to the delivery of suicide prevention and positive mental health initiatives. The HSE Midlands are focusing on harnessing the capacity of the community to respond in times of crisis and providing a credible resource for signposting to the appropriate services.

Skills based programmes such as SafeTalk and ASIST can be provided by the HSE to parents, coaches, volunteers and these programmes are designed to enable individuals to recognise when a person is thinking about suicide and are displaying signs of their pain and distress,” she added.

Niamh Kavanagh, Irish Rugby International supporting the Sport Your Mind initiative said, “It is very important to be active and play a sport you enjoy. There are many highs and lows in sport and rugby is no different. Missing out in playing in the World Cup 2014 due to injury has been hugely difficult for me but no matter what, I am still a part of the team. Win, lose or draw, as a team we are one and support each other through those sporting experiences.

In life we can support each other through difficult times. A team sport is an ideal environment for young people to develop the skills and resilience to deal with those highs and lows, which are a normal part of life, she added.

The relationship between the Midlands branch of Leinster Rugby and the HSE Midlands Health Promotion was initiated with the launch of ‘Sport your Mind’ at the Offaly Mental Health TALK Week 2013. Approximately 45 adults and 66 young people from both Tullamore Rugby Club and Birr Rugby Club have participated in the programme to date.

List of Venues of Times for Sport Your Mind for Leinster Rugby (Midlands Branch)

For further information on the talks, please contact; Chris Glennon at 086 8122825 or Robert McDermott at 087 2555251

Dates and venues for upcoming seminars:

Longford RFC       24th September 7pm    
Mullingar RFC      30th September 7pm    
Birr RFC                2nd October  7pm    
Edenderry RFC     7th October 7pm    
Tullamore RFC      9th  October 7pm