The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) and the Women’s Gaelic Players Association (WGPA) have partnered with Pieta, the mental health charity that provides free counselling nationwide to those experiencing suicidal ideation or self-harm, to promote a new ‘mental fitness’ campaign, R.E.S.T. The campaign invites the GAA community, and the general public to look after their mental fitness during the Covid19 restrictions when all sporting activity has been put on hold. There will also be a fundraising element to the initiative, encouraging people to donate to Pieta’s Darkness Into Light Sunrise* appeal, proudly sponsored by Electric Ireland, on Saturday, 9thMay.
As the 2020 GAA summer season has been put on hold due to Covid19 restrictions, and recognising the important role that sport plays in maintaining mental as well as physical health, the GPA, WGPA and Pieta want to encourage all GAA players and the wider public to pay attention to their mental fitness during these very difficult times of restrictions and social distancing.
R.E.S.T. stands for Routine, Exercise, Sleep and Talk, which are key elements for maintaining good mental fitness at all times, but especially during this time of unprecedent lockdown and restriction. Over the next couple of weeks, GPA and WGPA members from the 32 counties will be leading on a social media campaign demonstrating the four pillars of R.E.S.T. and offering tips for each element to contribute to physical wellbeing and mental fitness. The campaign will be fronted by a host of current and former star intercounty players including Brian Fenton (Dublin), Niamh Kilkenny (Galway), Michael Murphy (Donegal); Anna Geary (Cork Camogie); Nicole Owens (Dublin Football); Sean O’Shea (Kerry Football), Caroline O’Hanlon (Armagh Football); Neil McManus (Antrim Hurling); Declan Hannon (Limerick Hurling). The players will be recording video pieces to showcase the different elements of the R.E.S.T. mental fitness formula and to offer encouragement and practical advice to their fellow GAA players, supporters and the general public.
Developed in conjunction with Pieta’s mental health professionals, R.E.S.T. includes:
Routine – Stick to a good daily routine to maintain positive mental health
Exercise – Daily exercise is key to your physical and mental fitness, releasing endorphins to help you stay happy and positive, as well as improving your fitness and skills
Sleep – We all need proper sleep to refresh the body and mind – try to go to bed at the same time every night and aim for at least 8 hours of restful sleep
Talk – This is a challenging and stressful time for many people. It’s important to keep talking to each other, especially if you are struggling with worries related to social isolation or your finances – whether it’s a family member or a friend online/phone make a special effort to stay connected – and remember Pieta is here to talk to you if you are finding things difficult – www.pieta.ie for details of how to get in touch.
Speaking about the campaign, Paul Flynn, Chief Executive, GPA, said; “As the 2020 season has been put on hold, we wanted to do something practical to help inter-county players through this challenging time. Sport plays such a positive role in mental as well as physical fitness. Keeping focused and continuing with routines and exercise will help us all maintain mental fitness. We’re delighted to partner with Pieta on this important campaign, as they are the experts on mental health. We understand the benefits of all of the elements of R.E.S.T. and will do all we can to help players and the wider public through this extraordinary time in all our lives.”
Elaine Austin, Chief Executive, Pieta, said “We are delighted to launch this joint initiative with the country’s inter-county players. They are fantastic role models in our society and will be able to share this powerful message of mental fitness with all GAA players, supporters and the general public. It is so important at this time that we all take care of each other’s physical as well as mental wellbeing and the R.E.S.T. campaign, developed by our own Pieta staff and the GPA, embodies the key elements for achieving and maintaining strong mental fitness. We in Pieta are acutely aware that people are suffering at this time and we would urge anyone who is experiencing mental health difficulties to contact us at freephone 1800 247 247. Our experienced counsellors will be on hand to assist you and care for you at this difficult time.”
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