Join Connacht Rugby Player Jake Heenan for ‘Tackle Your Feelings’ Panel Discussion

Philip Rooney

Reporter:

Philip Rooney

Join Connacht Rugby Player Jake Heenan for ‘Tackle Your Feelings’ Panel Discussion

The Irish Rugby Union Players’ Association (IRUPA) in partnership with Zurich will host a free mental wellbeing panel discussion as part of its ‘Tackle Your Feelings’ campaign at the G Hotel in Galway on Tuesday, September 27 from 6.30pm – 8.30pm.

The panel will feature Connacht flanker and Tackle Your Feelings Ambassador, Jake Heenan, who recently came forward to tell his own personal story about how he coped with the frustration and uncertainty he experienced during a time when he lacked direction in his life and how it ultimately led him to anti-social behaviour.

The New Zealander will also be joined on the panel by former Munster scrum-half Cathal Sheridan and Connacht Hall of Fame legend Michael Swift, who will MC the event. Dr Eddie Murphy, Clinical Psychologist and Tackle Your Feelings advisor will add to the discussion by providing practical advice as to how attendees can proactively manage their mental wellbeing.

‘Tackle Your Feelings’ is a three-year all island mental wellbeing campaign which has seen national and international rugby stars, including Leinster front-row, Jack McGrath; Irish women’s player, Hannah Tyrrell and Munster’s Cathal Sheridan come forward to tell their own personal story of the issues they have faced off the pitch. The event is free to attend and to secure a place simply register on https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/ tackle-your-feelings-connacht- panel-discussion-tickets- 27771072024  The panel will explore the importance of mental wellbeing and how people in Ireland need to be more proactive in resolving emotional challenges before they escalate into a crisis. The discussion is another step towards achieving the vision of a society that embraces emotional vulnerability.

One in four Irish adults will experience mental illness at some point in their lives[1] and research conducted by IRUPA as part of the Tackle Your Feelings campaign, demonstrated that 18-24 year olds are significantly more likely to be aware of someone who has experienced loneliness / isolation (50%) or teenage offending (17%) than any other adult age group – a topic that resonates particularly with Jake Heenan. ‘Tackle Your Feelings’ seeks to emphasise the importance of preventative measures in maintaining good mental wellbeing. 

Speaking about the event Jake Heenan, said, “I’m really delighted to be involved with the Tackle Your Feelings campaign and to help break down stigma around mental wellbeing in Ireland. Although I never directly experienced mental health problems I did go through a tough time as a teenager where I was homeless for a while and I got into myself into some trouble. It took a while to realise that my feelings of anger were actually stemming from fear and uncertainty about where I was going in life. I believe this is uncertainty and lack of direction is something that many young people face and I would like to share my story to show that it’s OK to be afraid and that by looking to other people for help and talking it’s possible to find a way through it. It’s so important that people also feel comfortable reaching out to others who might be struggling, often just really listening to the person can make a huge difference.”

As part of the ‘Tackle Your Feelings’ campaign former Ireland and Leinster flanker, Shane Jennings recently came forward to talk about the anxiety and sense of uncertainty he felt as he faced retirement from his rugby career with Ireland and Leinster. Earlier this year, Leinster front-row Jack McGrath, came forward to speak about how he coped with the death of his brother by suicide in 2010, alongside Irish women’s player, Hannah Tyrrell, who talked about how she overcame her struggles with self-harm and bulimia.