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Winning hearts and minds

Dr Aisling Hillary and Tir Chonaill Gaels head of football Paul Coggins

A national charity has partnered with a London GAA club for a mental health scheme aimed at reducing stigma around mental illness in the Irish community in the UK.

A new Green Hearts Mental Health Charter will be piloted between the charity and Tir Chonaill Gaels (TCG) and Irish in Britain in an effort to raise awareness around mental illness.

It is estimated that one in four people in Britain will experience a mental health problem each year. However, research shows that stigma surrounding mental illness can delay people from seeking support.

According to Irish in Britain, there is also some evidence that Irish people are less likely to be referred for help by GPs – and are more likely to reach mental health services through acute and emergency provision.

Conor Redmond, Shane Gilsennan, Craig Woollard and Tanya Kumar

“In the same way that most physical illnesses are easily treatable with the right support, so too are mental illnesses. The difference is that we’re often held back from getting the mental health support we need, when we need it, because of the stigma surrounding it,” Irish in Britain’s Health Officer, Marie Dillon, said.

“Community organisations can play a key in addressing the stigma around mental illness at a local level. Creating environments that promote mental health awareness, openness and inclusivity is an important first step in reducing stigma. We’re delighted to partner with TCG and welcome the support of Britain GAA on this important campaign.”


Paul Coggins, the head of football at TCG, said that the charter had recently drawn a “fantastic” response from the men’s senior team. The players, he said, are “keen to get involved and lead the way in promoting mental health awareness”.

Irish organisations across Britain will be invited to apply for the Charter, which will include mental health awareness training, from June 2019.

“Health and wellbeing are a priority for us, and we do our best to ensure the highest standards of welfare our players,” added Tom Mohan, the Chairman of the London GAA club.

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