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Cork GAA Healthy Club Project claims Award

Cork GAA Healthy Club Project claims Award

Cork GAA Healthy Club Project claims Award

Cork GAA Healthy Club Project claims Award

The Cork ladies football team weren't the only group of GAA Rebels to claim All Ireland glory last week. The 'Cork Beats Stress' (Stress Control) programme, hosted by the GAA Healthy Club project teams in St. Finbarr's and Midleton last January/February and delivered in partnership with the HSE South, was awarded joint first place by Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, at the prestigious Health Management Institute Leaders awards on Tuesday night.

Following an expression of interest to all GAA clubs, 18 across the island of Ireland were selected to participate in Phase One of the GAA Healthy Club Project, which was launched in Croke Park in conjunction with the Irish health sector/HSE in March 2013. Midleton and St. Finbarr's in Cork were among these. The ambitious project aims to better enable GAA clubs to promote positive health among their members and the wider communities they serve.

The Health Management Institute Leaders Award is given in recognition of outstanding achievements of individuals and teams that exemplify innovation, creativity and commitment of people working in the Irish health services. 27 innovative health projects from around the country were shortlisted with seven of these making it through to the final adjudication. Pearse McCarthy and Janas Harrington, chairs of the Healthy Clubs in Midleton and St. Finbarr's GAA clubs, said their respective Healthy Club Committees worked hard to ensure the success of this initiative. Janas, who is also a member of the GAA's new National Health and Wellbeing Committee, noted: "St. Finbarrs and Midleton GAA clubs are delighted and proud to be part of this initiative which saw hundreds of people in our local communities, regardless of whether they were associated with the GAA or not, benefit significantly. The GAA has an important role to play in our communities and this is a prime example of this."

"Stress Control", a six week course hosted by the two clubs, was delivered by HSE Primary to over 300 participants. The lectures centred on providing important information about stress, how it affects people and on teaching the skills people need to gain control over stress when it becomes a problem in their lives. The course was provided free of charge and was open to anyone over the age of 18 who was interested in attending.

Dr. Jennifer Hayes, Principal Clinical Psychologist, HSE South, who led the delivery, explains: "Our research on this project showed that people who attended these courses learned about problematic stress and got the necessary skills to control it. Coming to the course resulted in significant decreases in reported levels of anxiety, depression and stress and significant improvements in quality of life. Delivering the program through the GAA had the effect of making the service more accessible to people who may not have otherwise availed of help to address the stress in their lives. It was associated with a reduction in stigma and the normalisation of stress / help seeking behaviour. It also led people to replace previously held negative connotations associated with mental health services, which can be a barrier to accessing needed supports, with positive associations which are more conducive to accessing supports and enhancing positive mental health. While some of these outcomes can be attributed to the course and course structure, others are associated with delivering a service through the GAA. These results are difficult to achieve in a HSE setting and are hugely important because they point us in the direction of the development of effective and accessible services delivered in the heart of our communities".

The full results of the Cork Beats Stress Evaluation will be launched in the coming months along with plans for the expansion of this project. Phase 1 of the Healthy Club project will run until March 2015 and is also being independently evaluated, with a half-way report highlighting its potential to positively influence health in GAA clubs.The Phase 1 participating clubs are St. John's, Co Down; Cullaville Blues, Armagh; Castleblayney Faughs, Monaghan; St. Mary's, Antrim; Midleton, Cork; Éire Óg, Tipperary; Beaufort, Kerry; St. Paul's Mungret, Limerick; Thomas Davis, Dublin; Annacurra, Wicklow; St. John's Volunteers, Wexford; St. Colmcille's, Meath; Liam Mellows, Galway; Seán O'Heslin's, Leitrim; Eastern Harps, Sligo; Oran, Roscommon;

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