"I had a knot in my stomach all the time and thought I shouldn't feel like this" - Jack McGrath discusses his struggles with mental health

The Ireland international was speaking on Newstalk Breakfast with the launch of Tackle Your Feelings

BY Cian Roche 13:01 Monday 21 March 2016, 13:01 21 Mar 2016

Jack McGrath insists it's time for men to start sharing their feelings and opened up about his struggle with mental health on Newstalk Breakfast this morning.

The Ireland international loosehead prop joined Chris and Ivan on this morning's show and shared his personal experience with listeners.

"My brother tragically died in 2010 and it was a shock to the family. The reason I got involved in the campaign was because of how I dealt with it" he said.

"I struggled to talk about it. The way I thought about it was 'Don't cry, that's not the way to deal with things. You need to be tough and look after your family.'

"Five and a half years later I tried to just play rugby and do other things to forget about how I was feeling. Last year it began to come to a head and it began to affect my playing and my relationships."

McGrath was speaking as part of the launch of IRUPA's "Tackle Your Feelings" campaign, a three-year all-island mental well-being drive which promotes sharing among men and positive mental health. 

"With the campaign we're trying to push that it's OK to be vulnerable. What I felt was that I had to look after other people and be strong for my family but I suppose you forget to look after yourself.

"That's where I ran into trouble, I suffered from anxiety and it got to the point where from saying the smallest thing to a person you trust, it became a weight off my chest.  It helped me speaking to someone and letting them know how I feel."

Clinical psychologist and advisor for the campaign, Dr. Eddie Murpgy added: "Quite often when people get stuck with emotions, it's not because of something big they've had happen to them in their early childhood. 

"Life happens all of us and we can experience powerful emotions. In psychology we're not always focusing on where the problem came from, but what keeps the problem there. 

"For men, they tend to express their emotions in a very physical way. It comes out very physical in terms of anger or anxiety."

McGrath went on to explain the decision he took to go and talk to someone.

"I think what happened eventually was my rugby started going badly and that had been a place I would go to get away from my issues.

"I got to a point where I had a knot in my stomach the whole time and I knew it wasn't right, that I shouldn't be feeling like this... I woke up one day and said I can't do this anymore and told myself that from today on I had to be honest with myself. If I feel anxious about this or angry about something that I'll talk to someone." 

You can find out more about the campaign by clicking here, or more about Jack's story by watching the video below.

The full interview is available at the bottom of the page.


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