By Sarah O’Brien
Multi-platinum selling musician Niall Breslin (Bressie) delivered a keynote speech on mental health fitness and well-being at the Castletroy Park Hotel yesterday.
The ex-Blizzards frontman spoke to over four hundred attendees and emphasised the need for mindfulness training in schools for children as young as 12.
The point of this being to provide them with “emotional scaffolding” and support to cope with the pressures of modern day life.
“Our brains can no longer sustain the modern world. It’s far too fast and too chaotic,” he said.
Mr Breslin also commented on the problematic manner in which issues like mental illness and self-harm are discussed nationally, calling for a move from awareness towards action.
“As little as 6 percent of our health budget is spent on mental health, the rest is spent on medications-the whole things is skewed from a political point of view,” he said.
He also said that “going to war with our government is not the solution. Fighting and conflict is never the solution.”
During the address, Mr Breslin described the prevalence of shows like Celebrity Big Brother “It’s suddenly open season on mental health” in relation to producers who were only interested in exploiting mentally and emotionally unstable people for ratings,” he said.
“If they were choosing physically ill people and making fun of their disability, I bet no one in this room would think that that was ok.”
TV3 Midday panellist and See Change ambassador Jen Ronan also spoke at the event, stressing that she wants to “shine a light on the monsters under Ireland’s bed” by removing the stigma attached to mental health problems.
She candidly spoke about her own mental health struggles and how much needed services like Pieta House are unable to open seven days a week due to a lack of resources. “We need to just tell people not to kill themselves on a Sunday” she said.
The prolific Limerick blogger also commented on the inappropriateness of sending people with mental health issues to A & E for treatment stating: “there needs to be a better place to deal with people who are suffering”. This sentiment was similarly echoed by Mr Breslin.
Several charities such as GROW, Samaritans and the Corbett Suicide Patrol took part in the event, with manned information stands lining the venue entrance.
Speaking about the event, John Downey of Samaritans said, “There’s so much stigma surrounding mental health so it’s great to see someone like Bressie highlighting these issues. He gets through to people because young people can relate to him and identify with him.”
The mental health and emotional fitness event was organised in support of the Limerick Mental Health Association.