NEXT month will mark five unbroken years of writing a health page in this paper.
I can scarcely believe it has been going for so long, especially when people still mention to me the importance of the page, and urge me to ensure it continues.
Sadly, the need for such a page will remain, and it goes without saying that many who benefit from it will never be known to us. I am grateful that people give me direct feedback, while anecdotally I am aware of some who have benefited from getting information that they could act upon.
I am sure that Adrian McGoldrick, the man who inspired the series, will agree that there is a constant need to keep informing readers of the services and types of help available. Were it not for him, this page might never have seen the light of day.
It is true though, and regrettably so, that some free services available to people working in the industry are not on their radar.
I am cognisant of this because of something that happened to me this week, and which was the catalyst for today’s health page. The subject matter is not an easy one to speak or write about, that of suicidal ideation, but it is something that cannot be swept under the carpet. If it is, then more will suffer in silence.
Someone in the industry, going through a very difficult time, asked me to again highlight the fact that we can all be working with or know people who are in deep despair.
We need to keep our radars switched on and reach out to anyone we feel might ‘not be themselves’. Just by asking how someone is, offering to sit with them and have a coffee, and giving them an opportunity to speak could make all the difference in their lives.
Worryingly, the industry services available to this individual were not known to them. Yes, there are many national organisations offering help too, all free. When someone is in a dark place, however, their ability to reason and to see what is in front of them is often lost, or at best clouded.
Thankfully, I was at least able to offer an ear, and the response was appreciation for my help and concern.
I don’t want thanks for what I was able to do, but I hope that we can all offer this help to someone who needs it, and make the services available to people working in our sport and industry more visible.