- 27 Sep 18
A statement from the editor Niall Stokes…
Today, Hot Press has published a special Mental Health Issue.
Our ambition with it was – and is – to make a genuinely stirring statement about what is an area of huge concern for so many people in Ireland.
Mental health is a serious issue for the very many individuals who, in different ways and at various times, have felt the dark clouds gathering which signal that all is not well in our relationship with the world – or indeed with ourselves. But it is also a serious issue which can and does grievously affect the lovers, families, friends and workmates of those people whose happiness and stability are thrown into disarray by those same dark clouds.
In The Message this issue – that's the editorial that I write every fortnight for Hot Press – I wanted to set out my personal experience of the deeply unsatisfactory way in which people who are faced with mental health issues have been treated historically in Ireland. I also wanted to offer a too often neglected perspective on the experiences of families – and friends – of those who worst affected by what can often be an enormously destructive complex of conditions and illnesses.
These are, I confess, difficult issues to write about. It is hard to get the balance right. But this is what being an editor very often entails: orchestrating the elements, or trying to, so that they add up to something coherent, hopefully illuminating and even, just maybe, helpful. It also means taking the personal responsibility of leading, where necessary, from the front. I hope I have not failed in that duty in what I have written in Hot Press.
I hope so particularly because I know the extent of the hard work, the commitment, the energy and the passion, on the part of everyone on the Hot Press team, that went into making our issue as strong, as thoughtful, as good looking and as relevant as possible.
I was conscious also of the deep well of generosity and courage which has been shown today, by the artists, the musicians, the writers, the broadcasters, the actors, the media activists and all the rest who have spoken to us afresh, or in the past, on what is an intimately personal and often desperately daunting issue.
I am acutely aware too of the importance of the partnership which we entered into with Lyons Tea and Pieta House for the #nowweretalking campaign which we are running together; and in particular, today, for the 100 Voices supplement, which is such a central part of the Mental Health Issue.
Together, Lyons Tea, Pieta House and Hot Press are determined to assist people in the drive to put the stigma that was once associated with anxiety, depression, panic attacks, bipolar disorder and all of the other conditions which affect our collective mental health and sense of well-being firmly in the past. I think the extraordinary chorus of 100 Voices, along with all of the contributions to the Mental Health Issue, do that in a remarkable and at times very moving way. But it will be up to you – our wonderful supportive readers – to decide in relation to that. We will of course, welcome your thoughts and feedback...
The purpose of our partnership with Lyons Tea and Pieta House is also to help raise vital extra funds for Pieta House, as Lyons Tea have done for the past two years. And it is to highlight the importance of the simple act of sitting down, having a cup of tea in that famous Irish way, and talking with one another. We will do that together at Now We’re Talking: The Town Hall Gathering, in the Banquet Hall, Smock Alley, on World Mental Health Day, October 10, with the full line-up set to be announced tomorrow (Friday Sept. 28).
In the meantime, I want to say a huge thanks and extend big love to everyone who contributed, spoke to us, or otherwise played their part – and to those we will be seeing, and listening to, at Now We’re Talking.
There are of course no simple solutions to what can be very complex issues. It would be wrong to imply even that there might be. But the very fact of new and more informed, less judgemental, conversations taking place is liberating. Kindness, generosity, compassion, the willingness to share: in the ordinary everyday workings of our lives, these qualities stand unambiguously on the positive side.
I hope when you read it that you will conclude that the same can be said of the Hot Press Mental Health Special Issue 2018.
Here’s to each and every one of you.
Editor, Hot Press
27 September, 2018