Panel calls for greater mental health awareness

news1“The layers of intense emotions you suffer [during depression] flatlined you much that if you had told me my  dad had died I’d have felt nothing,” Niall ‘Bressie’ Breslin, the former Voice of Ireland judge, told students at a panel event organised by the Hist and TCDSU to celebrate Mental Health Day on Thursday.

From the age of 14, he had continually suffered from daily anxiety attacks, insomnia and depression, Breslin said. He was told his self-hate, self-harming and insomnia was just a side-effect of “puberty”. However, Ireland has improved its approach to mental health in the last ten years, he said.

Other panellists included SU welfare office, Ian Mooney; Trinity graduate Owen Murphy, founder of ShoutOut, a volunteer organisation that provides free workshops in LGBT to Irish secondary schools; first-year student Izzy Sweeney; and Peter Gowan, debates convenor for the Hist.

Ian Mooney opened the event by discussing his personal struggle with depression. He said the illness drained his emotions, affecting his studies and general life. Peter Gowan described it as an overwhelming sense of guilt and self-disgust at the thought of troubling those around him with his “issues”.

Owen Murphy talked about his work with ShoutOut. “Until recently the school system actively ‘hated on’ LGBT ideas,” he said. “I’ll go into a room of rowdy boys asking extremely intimate details about my sex life, but then suddenly ask a sincere question: ‘Did your mam cry when you came out?’”

The panel concluded by collectively commending the value of staying vigilant, looking for signs of mental ill health, inquiring about injuries on friends’ arms or vomiting on nights out ostensibly caused by excessive consumption of alcohol.