March 5, 2012


According to research conducted by the Lean on Me campaign, recent media coverage of high profile sports stars coming forward and sharing their experiences of. depression has had a significant impact on attitudes towards the illness in Ireland.

63% of participants in the survey said that media coverage of high profile sports stars experiencing depression made them more sympathetic towards issues of mental health and depression. Three quarters (76%) said the coverage has heightened their awareness of the issues of mental health and depression. The results of the Lean on Me survey were released as the Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland' (PFAI) and the Irish Rugby Union Players' Association (IRUPA) announced their joint partnership with Leah on Me to collectively help to break down the stigma that remains around depression and mental health in sport.

The campaign is also supported by Aware, European Depression Association, World Federation of Mental Health, and Lundbeck Ireland.

A booklet, Lean on Me-To Win, has also been launched providing information on tools and techniques used by sports people that can be employed by anyone to help them keep a healthy mind and maintain a positive outlook.

General secretary of the PFAI Stephen McGuin- ness said, "I have huge respect for the sports people who have spoken publicly about their struggles recently. Unfor- tunately there is a stigma around depression and players are reluctant tocome forward and seekhelp for any problemsthey might be having,often because they feel itmight show a weaknessthat will affect theirselection or career. Justas your team helps yousucceed on the pitch, theyare also there to "help offthe pitch.""The PFAI have partneredwith the Lean on Mecampaign to try andencourage our membersand the wider public, toopen up and talk tosomeone if they thinkthey might be grapplingwith depression."Omar Hassanein^ chiefexecutive of IRUPA said,"There are many factorsthat can contribute toprofessional athletes beingaffected by depression,whether it is performanceanxiety or even havingtoo much time on yourhands, particularly post-retirement when dailytraining and teamenvironment are no longerthere.

"Many of these samefactors impact non-athletes and the messageis the same; by seekingsupport you are taking thefirst steps towardsrecovery. The Lean onMe-To Win bookletprovides some reallyuseful information ondepression and techniquesthat anyone can adopt toencourage positivethinking and a healthymind."The Lean on Me surveyquestioned 250 peopleactively involved in sport.

Almost half (45%) feltthey had experiencedsymptoms of depressionin the past and 69% saidthat encouragement fromfriends or family wouldpersuade them to seekhelp if they wereexperiencing symptomsof depression.

76% of respondents, whoclaimed to have exper-ienced symptoms ofdepression in the past,either agreed or stronglyagreed that there, is asocial stigma surroundingdepression.

Speaking about the newcampaign partners EithneBoyan, .ManagingDirector, Lundbeck(Ireland) Ltd, said, "Weare delighted to receivethe support of the PFAIand IRUPA for the Leanon Me campaign.

Depression affects 1 in 10of all people in Irelandand that includes the largenumber of people thatparticipate in sport. Iwould encourage peopleto log on to www. to learnmore about depressionand how they mightprovide support."