Ireland’s Jack McGrath urges people to tackle their feelings

Leinster and Ireland prop says he suffered in silence for years after his brother died

 Irish rugby players Jack McGrath and Hannah Tyrrell at the launch of Tackle Your Feelings , a mental wellbeing campaign, supported by the Irish Rugby Players’ Association. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Irish rugby players Jack McGrath and Hannah Tyrrell at the launch of Tackle Your Feelings , a mental wellbeing campaign, supported by the Irish Rugby Players’ Association. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

The Irish Rugby Union Players’ Association (IRUPA) is urging men to tackle their feelings and to open up when they are feeling sad or frustrated.

Leinster and Ireland prop Jack McGrath, helped launch the IRUPA's Tackle Your Feelings campaign on Newstalk Breakfast today by revealing that he had suffered in silence for five and a half years following the tragic death of his brother in 2010.

“I struggled to talk about it. I told myself ‘don’t cry, you need to be strong’ but last year it all came to a head,” he said.

“I had used rugby as a way of coping with it. Eventually it began to affect my playing and my relationships. I needed to talk about it.”

He said that when he finally did talk about his feelings it was a “huge pressure” off his shoulders. “When I opened up, it was like a gas valve had been released.”

The IRUPA's Tackle Your Feelings, is an all-island mental well-being drive to highlight the fact that over half of Irish adults have gone through a difficult life event but did not talk to anyone about their troubles.

New research conducted by the IRUPA also shows most people feel they would be treated differently if others knew about a mental health issue they had.

Clinical psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy, who is also involved with the campaign, said that the main message is that it is ok for men to feel vulnerable and that all too often they forget to look after themselves.

“Men tend to talk shoulder to shoulder rather than face to face. They need to realise that it’s ok, not to feel ok. It’s ok to be vulnerable,” said Dr Murphy.

Mr McGrath agreed, saying he had suffered terrible anxiety until he finally spoke to someone and then he felt that a great weight had been lifted off his chest.

The campaign’s website, www.tackleyourfeelings.com has various tools and resources to help people deal with anxiety, depression and other issues.