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'I hear you, I'm in your corner, and I'm with you' | Eric Donovan on importance of listening

Shane Hannon
Shane Hannon

11:14 8 Jan 2021

Athy boxer Eric Donovan has spoken about the need for continued conversations around mental health, as the country undergoes a third lockdown since last March.

The 35-year-old got some good news last week when he was installed as mandatory challenger for the EU's super-featherweight crown, where he will fight incumbent titleholder Haithem Laamouz.

And although a shot at a European title in 2021 is high on Donovan's list of priorities, he told OTB AM this morning that taking calls from people struggling is a different kind of privilege.

"I've noticed a big change across society, definitely. Mental health is a huge issue at the moment - I take phone calls nearly every week with people... and they're just asking for a bit of assistance for a son, a daughter, for a cousin or relative.

"They might just ask me for a bit of advice or to speak to one of their family members, and I always offer my services. I don't claim to be some sort of guru or anything like that but I just listen.

"I'll offer people some compassion or some empathy and I try to point them in the right direction then and I might say 'Well look this is what I did when I was struggling'.

"I do that because that was done for me when I needed support and help... we make a livelihood out of what we get, we make a life out of what we give."

The Kildare southpaw has spoken candidly about his own journey with his mental health in the past, and he says listening is the key.

"Listening is a skill in itself. I remember the first time when I started doing some counselling sessions on my own journey, there was something really special about having that.

"It was very liberating, just having somebody give you this empathy and compassion and just hear you - really, really hear you. You're not looking for answers at that time, you're just looking to get a lot of things off your chest or out of your head.

"I often say to kids when I go to schools as well - sometimes if a friend of yours hears something that's very heavy or personal or whatever, you don't have to have the answers.

"You just have to say to your friend 'I hear you, I'm in your corner, and I'm with you'. As a society when people talk about depression or loneliness or anxiety we can get a little bit confused in how to deal with that stuff and we might try to change the subject very quickly and avoid those scenarios."

You can watch Eric's full interview from this morning's OTB AM above where he discusses his hopes in the ring for 2021, dealing with Eddie Hearn, and plenty more!

Download the brand new OTB Sports App in the Play Store & App Store right now! We've got you covered!

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