Dundalk FC tackle mental health issues

The initiative is called the Dundalk FC Harry Taaffe Mental Health & Wellbeing Programme and aims to educate and increase awareness about mental health.
Former Dundalk FC groundsman and videographer Harry Taaffe, aged 58, tragically died by suicide on July 26, 2020.

The well-known O’Hanlon Park man died just three days after he had attended the Department of Psychiatry in Crosslanes in Drogheda where he had been referred to by his GP.
Fyffes is supporting the campaign, which will be led by Derek Pepper, a mental health officer with Head in the Game.

Dundalk FC is planning to link up with See Change, a national partnership which is tackling the perception of mental health issues.

Employees from Dundalk FC and Fyffes will also participate in a safeTALK workshop, the HSE’s programme that prepares participants to recognise and engage with people who may be having thoughts of suicide.

Additional safeTALK workshops will be available to members of the club’s coaching staff and the local community.

Dundalk FC is also organising a mental health information and awareness event for October, which will include guest speakers with knowledge of mental health problems.

Martin Connolly, chief operating officer of Dundalk FC spoke on the club’s website about the programme and what he hoped it could achieve.

“We are delighted to announce the Dundalk FC Harry Taaffe Mental Health and Wellbeing Programme.

“We believe that discussions around mental health and suicide prevention and a coordinated plan of action from government and national and local services are a priority in Ireland at this moment in time.
“As a community football club, we want to try and lead that discussion and if we can equip our players, staff, supporters and sponsors with the skills to recognise the signs of depression, or help one person through a safeTALK workshop, then this programme will have achieved its aims.

“We would like to thank one of our supporters, Derek Pepper, for kindly sharing his expertise and knowledge to lead this programme and we would also like to thank our good friends at Fyffes who have once again demonstrated their support for the club and the community by supporting us with this venture.

“Since his tragic passing from suicide in 2020, we have looked at various ways to honour the memory of Harry Taaffe. We hope that naming this initiative after him will be a fitting tribute to a great friend and supporter of Dundalk FC.

“The programme gets underway in September and we would welcome any supporter or company within our community who wishes to partake in one of our safeTALK workshops over the coming months.”

Speaking on behalf of the Taaffe family, Harry’s son Shane Taaffe, who is also involved with Head In The Game, said: “Harry was a massive Dundalk FC supporter and volunteer and some of his happiest times were spent around Oriel Park so we are delighted to see his name associated with this terrific initiative from the club.
“If this programme helps one person with their struggles or makes one family aware of where they can get help then it will have achieved its objective and we know that Harry would be extremely proud of that.”

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