- 11 Oct 18
In front of a packed crowd at the Smock Alley Theatre, people from across the spectrum of Ireland’s public life – including from the sporting, musical, cultural and charity sectors – talked about their personal mental health stories, the state of Ireland’s mental health services, and offered words of advice and comfort for those who are struggling.
Hosted by Hot Press’ Stuart Clark, this Town Hall Gathering aimed to cover a wide-range of issues related to mental health.
Our first panel on the night featured RTE 2FM broadcaster Eoghan McDermott, who talked about being an Ambassador for Pieta House, his own struggles with self-harm, depression, and a relationship breakdown.
He was joined by Dr. Niall Crumlish, Consultant Psychiatrist at St. James’ Hospital, who talked about the services on offer for mental health, gave advice on those who want to seek medical help for themselves or their family members, and pointed out developing trends in the understanding of mental health.
The panel also involved a lively discuss on sport in mental health, during which Irish International Sene Naoupu talking about the pressures of playing at an elite level.
The first panel also featured acclaimed writer Rob Doyle, who gave his experience of mental health in relation to being an artist, and spoke about how to be protective over one’s well-being when it comes to living a somewhat solitary lifestyle.
The discussion was broken up with some poignant guest performances across the evening. Lisa Hannigan kicked things off for us, before Stephanie Rainey bore her soul with a performance of ‘100 Like Me’, a song about mental health visibility.
For our second panel discussion, we sat down with Dr. Ciara Kelly, journalist and broadcaster, who gave important advice to Junior and Leaving Cert students, as well as discussing the significance of diet and exercise in relation to mental health.
Brian Higgins, CEO of Pieta House, talked about the work that this vital charity has been doing with Hot Press and Lyons Tea, as well as discussing the challenges facing Pieta House today.
Meanwhile, Louise Carroll, bass player for The Blizzards, told us about her day job as a creative psychologist, what role this has to play for those struggling with their mental health issues, and how it has offered an alternative for adults and young adults in the creative world.
Finally, Tipperary hurler Seamus Hennessy spoke about how close this subject was to his heart, opening up about his mother’s suicide and how this affecting his younger years. He also displayed his incredible resilience, telling us about his plans to run an ‘ice marathon’ at the end of this year in the Antarctica, with the aim of raising €200,000.
For our second panel, we also had a spoken word performance from writer and star of Dublin Old School, Emmet Kirwan, whose poems have offered fresh perspectives about what it’s like to face, and overcome, hardship. His poem, 'I Love You Woman' was a particularly moving depiction of the things which people have a habit of leaving unsaid. As well as that, we had a final musical performance from Bray trio Wyvern Lingo, whose single ‘I Love You, Sadie' focused on the positivity of self-acceptance.
This night showed, once again, how engaged people are with the mental health discussion, how personal stories from public figures can shed light on this issue, and how wide-ranging the options available to people are – whether that be through dealing with the charity sector or the seeking medical help.
It also emphasised how important organisations like Pieta House really are, and why partnerships with the likes of Lyons Tea and Hot Press will always be needed.