From left, Mayo GAA stars Lee Keegan and Padriag O'Hora.

Mayo GAA stars team up with Movember to encourage men to walk and talk

MAYO GAA players Lee Keegan and Padraig O’Hora have teamed up with leading men’s health charity Movember to encourage men to open up to a friend to support their mental health.

In the first of a series of videos, launched today as part of Movember’s month-long fundraising campaign, the Mayo stars are shown rucking on a picturesque Foxford trail and sharing their struggles to encourage young lads to grab a mate, go for a walk and have a real conversation.

In the video Keegan reflects on struggles he faced during his college days, saying: “I was a nervous student when it came to exams” and as an adult he “became a ‘yes man’ for everybody and found myself getting overwhelmed.”

The series, created by Movember, aims to show the power of male friendships and highlights the importance of just being there for one another.

Further videos set to be released throughout Movember will feature Dubliners Shane Carthy and Cormac Ryan, Offaly County player Niall MacNamee and former All-Star, All-Ireland Champion and Wicklow manager Oisin McConville.

New research from Movember to accompany the series has revealed that over half (53.31 per cent) of Irish men who regularly play sport, said they would consider opening up to a friend about something that was on their mind following a match or training session. 17.36 per cent said during a training session was the best time, while just 5.36 per cent would pick their moment before a game.

The nationwide poll of 506 Irish men, aged between 18-55+, found that most men (71.94 per cent) agreed that talking a problem over with a mate would make them feel better. However, a substantial proportion (30.33 per cent) admitted that they would still find it difficult to open up to a friend.

Barriers identified by the research included worrying about what friends would think, not knowing how to go about starting a conversation with a friend or even feeling that it is not ‘manly’ to open up.

“Spending time with friends is good for you. It’s important for your mental health to make the time to catch up regularly and watching or playing sport is when a lot of men get the opportunity to do that,” explains Johnny Owens, country director of Movember Ireland.

“We know that many men seem to find it easier to open up when they are engaged in an activity such as watching sport or travelling somewhere. It allows them to have those shoulder-to-shoulder conversations which many find less intense than talking face-to-face.”

“It’s great to see that more men are beginning to understand the benefits of talking openly about their problems - because it shows our message is getting through. But choosing the right time and place to have those conversations is also really important.

“The athletes who took part in our research told us that the best time was following a training session or a match, perhaps because of the shared experience of doing something together. For sports fans, the journey to or from a match could work equally well. This Movember, we’re asking men to pick a mate and find the right times to have a proper chat.”

Nearly two thirds (64.82 per cent) of Irish men surveyed said they supported a local sports team while nearly half (47.83 per cent) play sport regularly, with football, Gaelic football, hurling, and rugby ranked as the most popular sports.

The videos will be launching throughout Movember on the YouTube channel, with an aim of reaching young men across the country.

This year, alongside having a conversation with a friend, the Movember campaign is inviting Mo Bro’s to come together with their mates for the next 30 days and grow their moustaches to help change the face of men's health and JOIN THE TACHE-FORCE! Other ways to support including ‘Move for Movember’ by committing or running or walking 60kms over the month, ‘Host a Mo-ment’ or ‘Mo Your Own Way’ by choosing your own adventure challenge.

You can watch the first video here.