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Stay connected from a distance

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GETTING THE MESSAGE ACROSS Niall Dunne is the manager of the Mayo Mental Health Association and the chairman of the Mayo GAA Health and Wellbeing Committee.

Mike Finnerty

THE chairman of Mayo GAA’s Health and Wellbeing committee has called on members of the public to observe HSE guidelines around social distancing to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus, but to remember to ‘stay connected’ to people in their local communities who may be feeling isolated.
Niall Dunne, who is also the manager of the Mayo Mental Health Association, says that while many people were understandably worried by current events, there were a number of ways to reduce anxiety on a day-to-day basis.
“What we’ve seen in the last week or two is that anxiety levels are on the increase,” the Parke native told The Mayo News.
“More people are at home or are working from home, teenagers are at home, you have uncertainty around the Leaving Cert. . . So it’s important to have a routine and stick to it, it’s important to have open and honest conversations with teenagers, and it’s important to be careful when talking around younger children.
“They need to be reassured that this current situation will pass, and that we’re all working together on this.
“As adults, we also need to be mindful of how alcohol can increase anxiety,” he added.
“Healthy eating and getting out in fresh air and taking part in exercise are so important. It has to be one day at a time.”
Mayo GAA has established a Health and Wellbeing sub-committee to co-ordinate its response to the current health crisis; the group is comprised of Dr Catherine Sweeney and Dr Seán Moffatt; Niall Dunne and Leanne McManamon of the Mayo Mental Health Association; Peadar Gardiner from Mindspace Mayo; along with Mayo GAA officers Liam Moffatt, Dermot Butler and Paul Cunnane.
Niall Dunne explains that GAA clubs have a major part to play in terms of ensuring that people in communities all across Ireland don’t feel isolated or alone in the weeks ahead.
“As part of my work with the Mayo Mental Health Association, we always talk about the need to stay connected,” he said. “People need to observe the HSE guidelines around social distancing but it’s really important that people stay connected with each other at a time like this, whether that’s by phone or Skype or Whats App.
“We’ve been asking Health and Wellbeing officers in GAA clubs to feed out information to their members, and all the clubs are doing great work for us at the moment.
“In each club there are leaders, we all know them, and it’s so important that they lead from the front and help to co-ordinate this.
“You only have to flick through social media to see that there are clubs all across Mayo and the country being proactive and showing great interest in helping out in their communities at the moment.
“What I would say to GAA clubs is, go through your membership and look at the wider community, link in with other leaders, and see are there people in your area who may need a call to check in on them or who may need help.
“We know this will pass and we have to stay connected with other people.”
Dunne also asked people to spare a thought for front-line health workers ahead of an expected increase in the numbers of people who will test positive for Covid-19.
“We all know somebody who works in healthcare and they’re all nervous leaving home to go to work at the moment. They could be dealing with somebody close to you over the next few weeks and we need to play our part and support them by following the HSE guidelines in terms of washing our hands and social distancing.
“We’re all being told that the next two weeks will tell a tale in terms of the numbers and we all have to do our bit to help the health workers on the frontline and to flatten the curve.”

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