Avondhu Report on Mitchelstown Mental Health Seminar
Former Cork senior hurler and Cloyne clubman 34-year-old Conor Cusack, was the keynote speaker at last Thursday night's mental health workshop in St Fanahan's College, Mitchelstown- an event organised jointly by Mitchelstown Community Council, Cork County Muintir na Tire, Ballyhoura Development Ltd and the HSE's National Office for Suicide Prevention.
200 attended the event which also included a contribution from Bartlemy's John Arnold. John's combination of anecdotes and insightful observations were very well received. Muintir na Tire representative, Finbarr Motherway, performed the role of MC.
Someone who speaks openly about his battle with depression, Conor Cusack (brother of Donal Og) is a regular contributor to the mental health debate. His story is a sometimes harrowing one, where, a very ordinary young man from a stable background plumbs the depths of despair and contemplates suicide, before finding redemption through the support of family, friends and health care professionals.
Conceding that suicide is at frightening levels, he identified bullying, isolation and a lack of confidence as some of the reasons why he slipped into 'a dark place'.
"It's difficult to explain the sense hopelessness that can takeover your life. Cutting yourself off from friends, losing interest in personal relationships and seeing no way out, were the characteristics of my depression. I felt I was completely alone in the world. However, I was wrong and this message of 'not being alone' is the one that must resonate from here tonight. There is help out there and I would appeal to individuals who are feeling low to reach out, seek help and tell someone you are hurting."
With regard to professional help, he said there were numerous options and all were worth exploring. He had been fortunate in the care he received, however, he did add that pills and tablets on their own couldn't cure depression. He also revealed that at a very low point in his treatment, he was offered (but declined) electric shock therapy - this form of therapy, he described as 'inhuman and degrading'.
Speaking about courage, Conor, remarked that this was a noble trait possessed by great sportspeople. However, in his view, courage on the playing field didn't compare with the courage it took to stand up for what you believe in and where necessary, to challenge the status quo.
On the night, there were also contributions from Brendan Scahill (HSES) who advised those present on a forthcoming course on health and wellness - more details from the Ballyhoura Development office on Baldwin Street, Mitchelstown.
Chairperson of Mitchelstown Community Council, Sean Finn, thanked all the contributors for giving so generously of their time and the public for coming out in such numbers. Denis Kelly (Muintir na Tire) was thanked as was Tadhg Long, principal of St Fanahan's College, who kindly hosted the event.