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Ma-clean start Fair City star Maclean Burke reveals mental health battle following marriage breakdown

Maclean explains that he has been involved with Men's Aid since a Fair City storyline almost 11 years ago brought him into contact with the organisation.

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Maclean is healthier and happier today

Maclean is healthier and happier today

Maclean with his sons Cillian (right) and Jude

Maclean with his sons Cillian (right) and Jude

Maclean with daughter Beau

Maclean with daughter Beau

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Maclean is healthier and happier today

Fair City star Maclean Burke bravely opens up today for the first time about his mental health issues surrounding the break-up of his marriage.

And the popular actor, who plays Damien Halpin in the hit RTE soap, reveals that when he left a message on the Men's Aid phone line the charity's chief executive Kathrina Bentley rang him back thinking he was making a charity proposal, only to be told he actually needed help.

Maclean explains that he has been involved with Men's Aid since a Fair City storyline almost 11 years ago brought him into contact with the organisation.

"I didn't know who to turn to and I just left a message in 2019 saying it was Maclean Burke, I'd like to talk to someone.

"And then the CEO rang me and said 'Hey Maclean how are you?' and I said 'actually I wanted to talk to a counsellor rather than touching base seeing if there was anything I can do for you - I'm actually looking for a bit of help'," Maclean (42) tells the Sunday World.

He said he is grateful for the organisation's help.

"They are dealing with guys on the phone all the time and it's part of what they do," he says.

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Maclean with his sons Cillian (right) and Jude

Maclean with his sons Cillian (right) and Jude

Maclean with his sons Cillian (right) and Jude

"They were able to put perspective on it and I think that's important for people who need help, which they did give me."

Maclean has four children, ranging in age from 20 to nine.

His marriage to his wife broke down in recent years.

"I'm a prime example, the stress that I was under," he reveals. "It was probably five years coming.

"We kind of push it aside and get on with it, you don't deal with the lows.

"But it came to a head for me and I had to do something about it and they were my first port of call and they got me through it.

"It's not something I'm going to hide. It's something that's vitally important.

The actor stresses he is not looking for sympathy, and in the past year he has started a new relationship with HSE worker Cat Nolan.

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Maclean and his partner Cat

Maclean and his partner Cat

Maclean and his partner Cat

It was Cat who noticed the difference in Maclean's temperament and the change in his wellbeing in the last few months.

He posted a picture on social media of what he looked like three years ago compared to what he looks like now.

"It's not a 'woe is me' kind of thing either, it was just about being able to talk," Maclean says.

"To be honest, there was no intention of posting about it until my partner said to me 'look at that photo and look at you now'.

"I could remember where my mindset was in the other photo and it was just 'Jesus Christ' - it was trying to tell people that you can pull back and turn things around and just feel better in yourself, no matter what is going on behind the scenes.

"Time is a great healer as well."

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Maclean’s ‘before and after’ photos

Maclean’s ‘before and after’ photos

Maclean’s ‘before and after’ photos

Maclean has nothing but high praise for Men's Aid, which deals with a variety of problems affecting men and their relationships.

"It's a great organisation," he says. "For someone that needs help you will get it and you will get counselling over the phone.

"You never know. I would have never thought I was one of those guys, but when it came to the crunch, I was."

Earlier this year Maclean admitted on social media that the picture from three years ago was when he was "coming to the end of an unhappy marriage, which happens to men and women every day, I was not taking care of my mind or body, and it showed!"

He added: "Sometimes the people that seem to have it all together are the very ones that are falling apart behind the scenes where no one sees. Eighteen months ago I discovered a passion for fitness and weightlifting and I got stuck in and started to see and feel the physical and mental changes in my mind and body and I have never looked back!

"I am hooked on trying to be the best version of myself that I can be. They tell you on a plane that in an incident of a crash, to put the oxygen mask on yourself first so that you can then take care of your loved ones and I try to apply that to my everyday life now. It is so important for us all to mind our minds in these uncertain times in particular, there are people that will listen if we just reach out and talk.

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Maclean with daughter Beau

Maclean with daughter Beau

Maclean with daughter Beau

"I think the physical and mental changes in me shows and it feels good to feel good/ There are still dark days, we're human, but we have to try and let them pass and not unpack and live there, that is the reasoning behind the competition, I am currently running.

"It wasn't gifted to me and it's not a sponsored paid ad, it's just me trying to help someone get on the right road, it comes from experience of knowing what it feels like to feel stuck, so thanks for all the support."

Maclean lives in Ashford Co Wicklow, having grown up in Sallynoggin in south Dublin and later in Greystones, Co Wicklow.

He has played the role of 'lad next door' Damien Halpin in Fair City for the past 23 years and is currently in a storyline around his upcoming marriage to Mairead Casey.

His first marriage in the soap was to Suzanne, but that marriage fell apart when battered husband Damien was the victim of domestic violence.

"That was a really good, interesting story because of the reactions it got," he says.

"The amount of fellas who came up to me and told me it had changed their life... I have been involved in Men's Aid since."

  • Men's Aid can be contacted on a confidential helpline on 01-5543811 or by emailing hello@mensaid.ie.

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