1 April 2020

Staying connected

A message from Jack O'Connor, Movember’s Ireland Country Director
Mental Health

These are turbulent times as COVID-19 impacts us all, and we face new challenges daily. But we’ll get through it together. From all of us here at Movember, we’re thinking about you and we’re here for you.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing practical tools and reliable, trusted advice designed to help us all look after our own mental health and provide some guidance on how to support others around us. And while our teams are working remotely, rest assured, you can still reach us through all the usual channels.

The most important thing right now is to practice physical distancing. This is clearly our best hope to slow the spread of COVID-19, and to ensure our healthcare system can best care for those in the greatest need. To us, this doesn’t mean social isolation but social solidarity. In the same way so many of us grow a Mo in Movember, now, we’re all committing to support each other by making sacrifices for the greater good.

But we get it, the ‘new normal’ of physical distancing can feel isolating. We’re worried about our friends, family, ourselves and the future. These are normal feelings in abnormal times. We’re also acutely aware that uncertainty creates heightened stress and anxiety for many of us, and that health, income and job security are real concerns for many in our community. The key to getting through this lies in social connection – it’s more important now than ever.

Since we can’t hang out in person, we need to make sure we talk about how we’re feeling and check in with each other regularly. Physical distance means it might be trickier to spot the signs if a friend or family member is struggling. Stay tuned in to changes in behaviour – has a friend gone quiet on the group chat? Did they post something out of character on social media?

This is where we call on ALEC – a simple four-step model designed to help you open a conversation with someone who might be struggling.

A – ASK someone how they’re doing – something as simple as ‘You don’t seem yourself lately – are you feeling OK?’
L – LISTEN. Give them your full attention.
E – ENCOURAGE ACTION. Help them to focus on simple things that might improve how they feel.
C – CHECK IN. Follow up after your chat. This reinforces that you care and can help you to gauge if they’re feeling any better.

So, Mo family, as we navigate these unchartered waters, remember that looking after yourself and social connection are essential. Now’s the time to video call, to go hard on the group chat and stay in touch through social media.

Additional support is always available if you need it, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the support services below.

If you’re worried someone’s life is in immediate danger, go directly to emergency services (call 999).

Stay connected, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas.

Jack O'Connor
Country Director, Ireland

Pieta House
1800 247 247 or 01 623 5606

The Samaritans
116 123 - available 24/7