Posts Tagged ‘ awareness ’

Group Ready For Trip To Hell And Back In Charity Fundraiser

PHA group of eight are set to go to hell and back in an attempt to raise much needed awareness and funds for Pieta House, the centre for prevention of self harm and suicide.

The group, spearheaded by Catriona Bergin are running in two teams of four in memory of her brother Aibhne.

Two of the team members, Catriona and her cousin Jason Joyce, have written exclusively for Irish News Review in an attempt to show the country just what to hell and back is all about.


I would sincerely like to thank all who have sponsored us so far. We have raised an amazing €1,405 to date…THANK YOU!

Keep it coming.

Just a reminder of why we are doing this……

Aibhne was a big brother, a son, an uncle, a father, a husband, a friend and an accomplished athlete. My big brother Aibhne committed suicide in January 2012 and there’s not a day goes by that we are not affected by this, we miss him, we question the reasons why, we wonder if we could’ve done something to change this and we suffer silently. There are so many people who have been affected by suicide, it is greater than the loss of a person, a friend, a family member, it is the utter devastation that is left behind that makes it so difficult to bear.

When you have a cold, cough or flu you go to your doctor, when you have a toothache you go to your dentist, when you are suffering mentally with stress, depression you sit still and bottle it all up because going to see someone about your mental health is embarrassing, shameful. This needs to change! The HSE struggles to cope and charities like Pieta House can and will only survive with your help and continued support. I hope that we can all help families in need by supporting this worthy charity


We are participating in Ireland’s 10k to Hell and Back on the 27th of January, aka Ireland’s toughest 10k Challenge.

Designed, built and customised by a former member of Elite Army Ranger Wing, the Hell and Back Challenge has now been tested and approved by the best – and is unique in commanding endurance beyond belief. With military precision, this challenge will take place on the Kilruddery Estate, tormenting competitors both physically and mentally.

Some of the challenges involve barbed wire crawling, running though swamps, rivers, The Pond, Satan’s Pit, and the Shock of Horrors (if unsuccessful – we will get electrocuted).


To train for this specifically is difficult. You need to focus on endurance and power and have a plethora of mental strength. I think the memory of Aibhne will give the latter. My sister and cousins are putting in serious effort with running up mountains and doing various types of training including boxing, circuits and yoga.

Regarding my training, I’m lucky because I’m in the middle of pre-season GAA training with Round Towers senior football team in Clondalkin. We are working on power and endurance specifically. Training involves circuits of TRX, boxing (sparring with each other), kettle bells, flipping tractor tyres, and sprinting while pushing a sleigh full of weights. That focuses on power and is very tough both mentally and physically.

We also have one football training session a week focusing on endurance. On top of this I add in one run a week where I’m pushing it @75% max capacity. Last week I did a 6.5k run in thirty minutes and will push that to try do 8k in under forty minutes this week and hopefully 10k in under fifty minutes the following week. This programme leaves me with three off days a week, two days are active recovery for thirty minutes and one is complete rest.

Mental health awareness is poor in Ireland and this has to change. So many people look to be living happy lives and yet no one knows what is going on in their heads if they do not speak. Suicide is getting worse with the highest incidence among young men. I believe the main reason for this is because young men feel it’s a sign of weakness to talk about their feelings or show vulnerability. Believe me; I used to be one of those people. Instead, they sit in silence and suffer until they feel in their own mind there is no alternative solution.

It is coming up to a year of the passing of my team mate Ciaran Carr, who died of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS) while we were training. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about that night or Ciaran. On the day of Ciaran’s funeral, I received the information about Aibhne passing away. My life got flipped upside down and I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. Looking back at it now, I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t spoke to someone. The support I received through friends, my girlfriend, family and the wider community was incredible and being able to talk to people helped significantly. I can’t highlight enough the importance of mental health and I will literally go to hell and back to spread the awareness.

I believe that supporting Pieta House and the great work it does is a very worthy cause. I also understand that times are tough financially so any donations no matter how big or small are greatly appreciated. Anyone interested in donating can do so by visiting

Fear not, Irish News Review will bring you up to date with how the group got on, if and when they return from Hell and Back.

Mad Pride Founder Dies at 61


John McCarthy, founder of the mental health awareness group Mad Pride Ireland, has died aged 61 following a two year battle with motor neurone disease. He passed away at his home in Montenotte in Cork city yesterday morning.

McCarthy was a convivial and outspoken advocate who pushed for the “normality of madness” and open discussions on psychological health.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin led tributes to the inspirational McCarthy, saying he had he had helped to change how people view mental illness. He said, “He handled his own diagnosis with motor neurone disease with dignity and bravery, and continued his work on behalf of those living with mental illness.”

On 29 December, McCarthy spoke of his illness in his Cork Independent column. With characteristic wit, he wrote, “My health, like the economy, is going to shite, but my spirit is growing.” He added, “‘Mental illness’ is not about lack of resources, it is about an ethos based on the right to force a cure, on victims, who are patients. I will fight that abusive ethos as long as I have a breath in me.”

He is survived by his wife Liz, children David and Jill, and grandchildren. A humanist ceremony marking his life will take place at midday in Cork city tomorrow, followed by his burial at Curraghkippane cemetery.