Our wealth is our health. Deep down we all know this but for most part we only truly appreciate it when our health – or that of a loved one – is impacted negatively.
Then the importance and the gift that is our health comes into sharp focus.
We yearn for its return. We mourn its loss. And as with most things, we belatedly realise it is easier to maintain than to regain.
Leitrim Person of the Year 2017, Hubert McHugh, has spent a lifetime in service to those requiring support and care. But beyond his professional career the calling of volunteerism has always driven Hubert to community action. A great servant to the county and its people Herbert, now, as ever, wants to give something back.
Thinking about the legacy of his year as Leitrim Person of the Year, Hubert asked himself ‘what is the most valuable gift one can give?’ The simple answer that came to him was health.
A special symposium ‘Leitrim’s Health is Wealth’, which will take place this evening in the Bush Hotel, is Hubert’s attempt to offer his county-men and -women, young and old, the opportunity to better understand the building blocks of their health and that of their loved ones.
And to ensure that we collectively as a county, and individually, put in place the strongest possible foundations to support good health throughout our lifespan.
It was an honour to be asked by Herbert to MC the event. Health has always been an important aspect of my life and I have chosen a career that allows me to try to support the health of the members and communities that the GAA serves. For me, health is holistic thing, made up of physical, emotional, social, and spiritual elements.
When in harmony, they allow us to experience and enjoy the life we want to live and respond to the challenges that it will inevitably throw at us.
This evening, through a wonderful collection of special guests and contributors brought together by Hubert, I will try to tease out these topics for the better understanding of what we anticipate will be a large gathering.
Special guests include our own Eleanor Shanley, who will speak about the benefits of volunteerism and giving something back; Professor Patricia Casey Consultant Psychiatrist in The Mater Hospital, Dublin and regular contributor to the Irish Independent, who will explore the topic of bullying and cyberbullying; Dr Sutha Murthy, Consultant Psychiatrist with Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Service, who will discuss ways in which we can all protect and maintain positive mental health; and former Cavan goalkeeper Alan O’Mara, with whom I will discuss his experience of depression and what advice he has for others who may be experiencing it.
Finally, Mr Tomas Murphy, Director of Nursing with the Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Service, will outline the suicide reduction plan for Leitrim and the national ‘Connecting for Life’ Strategy.
Maintaining good health should be the starting point for us all I will endeavour to ensure that all those in attendance leave with a better understanding of how this can be achieved.
However, we all know that it is not possible to enjoy that balance every day of our lives. Therefore, I will also charge our speakers with identifying how we can also build our resilience so that when life throws us a curveball we are best equipped to respond to it and bounce back.
Bamboo is the best simile I have come across – built to survive the greatest winds and storms life can throw at it due to its combination of strength and flexibility.
If you are thinking about joining us on Wednesday evening at 7pm in the Bush Hotel, please come equipped with some questions that you can ask the panel.
But also ask yourself: ‘What does Leitrim’s Health is Wealth’ mean to you?
Does it mean that above all other things you value your health and that of your family’s?
Does it mean that you work to live rather than live to work?
Does it mean that you strive to understand what makes you healthy and that you are willing to make time for such things?
Does it mean that you appreciate that while money is important and often supports ease of access to health care and healthy options, at the end of the day it can neither buy nor guarantee health?
These are questions we all must ask ourselves, and hopefully ‘Leitrim’s Health is Wealth’ will help us all to better understand and appreciate some of the answers.