Mayo star Tom Parsons says: ‘It’s ok to talk’
Mayo footballer Tom Parsons is encouraging people who may be struggling with their mental health to ‘reach out, speak up, and talk to somebody’.
The well-known midfielder was speaking at the launch of a new pocket-sized information card that has been produced by Mindspace Mayo in association with Mayo GAA, its charity partners, that aims to try and help improve people’s mental health and wellbeing.
The card will be distributed to GAA club members in the county over the coming weeks.
“You’re only human if you’ve felt the stressors of the last few months that have come with the current world we live in,” said Parsons. “So many people have uncertainty over the future of their work, health uncertainties, stress, a lack of social interaction or isolation. . .
“So I think it’s really topical right now and I’m really proud to be involved with Mindspace and Mayo GAA to help promote this campaign.
“It’s ok to talk. It’s okay not to be okay,” added the Charlestown native.
“They are the key messages for me. Everybody has different stressors and the first thing you have to realise is that you’re human, and that you need to have a conversation and trust your family members or friends or team-mates.
“If you are struggling with your mental health, speak up and talk to somebody. Reach out to people and have that conversation.
“That’s something I’ve learned over the years playing with Mayo, whether it’s losing a big game or being released from a squad or picking up an injury, I kept all of that to myself.
“I wouldn’t talk about it.
“It’s only in the last few years, when those disappointments hit, that my mental health was affected through stress or worry or uncertainty about what was ahead.
“But when I reached out to my team-mates or my family and had that conversation, it was invaluable. And that’s the very first step.
“So for World Mental Health week, if anybody is struggling out there, have a conversation with somebody and realise that it’s ok to talk.”
This information campaign coincides with World Mental Health Day next Saturday, October 10th, a day for people to take some time to learn more about their mental health and wellbeing, and the services in the community that can better support them in this regard.
Tom Parsons, who was recently appointed as the chairman of the GPA, also spoke candidly about his own struggles to recover from an horrific leg injury that he suffered in May 2018 during a Connacht championship game for Mayo against Galway.
Parsons’ football career was hanging in the balance as a result and he had to undergo three surgeries before embarking on the road to recovery.
He made his return to the Mayo colours when he came off the bench during their All-Ireland SFC semi-final defeat to Dublin last August, and is currently part of James Horan’s squad who are preparing for the restart of the inter-county season later this month.
“I’m a big believer that if we don’t look after ourselves physically, our bodies will tell us,” explained the 32 year-old
“But equally if we’re not proactive about looking after our mental health, when a trigger like a big injury happens it can be very difficult to handle it.
“I suppose I was lucky that I had good coping mechanisms in my life, good balance in my life, good relationships, and I did engage with looking after my mental health.
“I did engage with the likes of meditation and switching off.
“In relation to my own injury, on reflection, the ‘Five Ways to Wellness’ played a pivotal role in helping me get over that setback.”