There is a conversation taking place around men's mental health in this country and athletes are helping to drive it. It is a positive movement that insists men open up and express their feelings and emotions.
IRUPA have gotten behind the movement with their latest 'Tackle Your Feelings' campaign, whereby a number of Irish rugby players discuss the emotional challenges they have had to deal with and overcome. There is a wrong perception that the life of professional athlete is all victory selfies, but it couldn't be farther from truth. Munster scrumhalf Cathal Sheridan is participating in the IRUPA campaign, and in particular has opened up about how a broken arm derailed his career physically and emotionally.
"I broke my arm and following that there was a period of my life where I didn't enjoy being a professional rugby player. I had been injured plenty of times before this instance, many much more serious and more long term, but I had always managed to deal very effectively with the challenges that go hand in hand with injuries. At the time I didn't even understand the effect it was having on me. Not only was I not enjoying being a rugby player, I wasn't really enjoying anything I was doing. It was only after a close friend questioned my behaviours that I realised I had been isolating myself, falling into bad habits and even blaming rugby for my frustration. Now I am a lot quicker to notice when something is wrong and I take action straight away.
Sheridan has also made the following video to discuss his role in the 'Tackle Your Feelings' campaign.
The message is clear, lads. There is nothing wrong or abnormal about fear, anxiety or sadness. But when the dark times come, just be sure talk to someone about them.
I'm delighted to support the Tackle Your Feelings campaign - I'd encourage everyone to keep the lines of communication open and try not to isolate yourself during difficult periods. When something bad happens, it's normal to feel upset. If you're sad, feel sad, then go and do something about it".