Mental Health Week was from the 5th to the 11th of October. October 10th was Mental Health Day 2015. According to the World Health Organization, every 40 seconds, a person commits suicide somewhere in the world. It is important to remember that we as teachers let our students know that it is okay not to be okay. Things go wrong. Nothing is perfect. Everyone has their own problems. That is life! ALWAYS talk to someone. Suicide is a PERMANENT SOLUTION to a TEMPORARY PROBLEM. It is our job as teachers to look out for our pupils and be good listeners and be there for our students! It it important to remember that a mental health issue does not always mean DEPRESSION or feeling suicidal. It can also mean having ANXIETY (feeling anxious/worried) or insomnia (having trouble sleeping).
Jessie J has a great song about how ‘its okay not to be okay’ and to keep pushing on and to never give up!
Last week for my Mentoring and Leadership module, I had to do a class presentation about a leader that inspires me. For my inspirational leader I picked Bressie. His full name is Niall Breslin. He is from Westmeath in Ireland. He is a singer-songwriter with his band and he is also a judge on the Irish television show ‘The Voice of Ireland’. I found this task hard , not because I could not think of anyone but because I could think of so many. I was going to do Emma Watson or Malala Youfazai. I finally realised I wanted to pick someone Irish who would help and inspire my fellow master students in the classroom. I told my fellow masters students about Bressie and I passed around his book. I also introduced my peers to the website ‘A Lust for Life’. I told them all to write down the name of the website and check it out as it has amazing articles every week.
Bressie is an advocate for mental health. Bressie suffers from General Anxiety Disorder. He is beating the mental health stereotype as he is not someone who is physically weak. He is a tall and strong man with has a mental health illness. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a major advocate for mental health. I set up and I was president of the mental health society in Mater Dei Institute of Education. I admire Bressie for all the work he does to beat the stigma against mental health. He supports many mental health societies in Ireland and he helped set up the Mind Our Men Campaign for Pieta House with the Cork Hurler Conor Cusack.
Some facts about mental health are 1 in 4 people have a mental health issue. 10 people a week die from suicide in Ireland and 8 of these deaths are men. Mental health issues are is on the rise in today’s society. The Mental Health Organisation website says that 1 in 9 of people that live to 65 years of age will need some form of mental health care. That is an astonishing number! 1 in 5 students in 2013 had mental health issues. This result has now risen to 1 in 3 students in 2015.
‘Me and my mate, Jeffrey’ is his bestselling book about his battle with depression. It was on the best-selling book list for three weeks. Bressie wrote in his book about his struggles with depression. It first started when he was 15 years old. He had severe depression and insomnia. He went to a number of doctors who blamed it on puberty. His depression was so bad that he ended up breaking his own arm so that he would have to go to hospital. Bressie aims this book at teachers and adolescents. It is an excellent resource for teachers. I recommend that every teacher reads this book and encourages their students’ to read it. When I was subbing in a school in Kildare a few weeks ago. One of the boys was not feeling well and I heard his friends tell him to ‘man up’. We are living in a world today where many men and young boys feel like they cannot discuss their feelings as they are afraid that they will be told to ‘man up’. Bressie is against this stereotype. He is trying to beat the stigma against mental health. He wants a world where everyone especially adolescent boys can come into school or adults can come into work and say ‘I am not feeling great today’ and that would be okay. He wants people to talk about their feelings like they talk about having the flu. He describes it as a ‘normal thing’. He wants to start from the bottom up. He thinks that if he works in schools then it will encourage holistic mental health in corporations in the future.
Bressie set up his own blog called ‘My100hoursblog’. It became so popular that now he has set up his own mental health and well-being website called ‘A Lust for Life’. It is an amazing website that has a mental health tab, physical health, soul, the bigger picture and personal stories. Bressie describes the website as ‘a movement for well-being’. He has many of his talks up on his website. They offer amazing advice about his own personal battle with depression and how he has dealt with it and what he has learn from it.
The three characteristics I picked for Bressie are:
Brave: He is incredibly brave. He discusses his battle with depression very honesty. He holds nothing back even at times when it makes him look bad but he does not mind his image being tainted as he just wants to help people.
Commitment: He loves to participate in triathlons. He encourages others to exercise as it is brilliant for mental health. It releases endorphins. And it keeps you busy and it helps you sleep as it releases serotonin. He performed in a triathlon in my hometown and he left straight away to travel 4-5 hour drive to Dublin to give a talk about mental health at Wellfest which is Ireland’s first ever health and fitness festival.
Resilience: He is resilient and strong. He is an inspiration as he has been through so much and come of it better and stronger. He is a role model to everyone.
Here are 7 video clips where Bressie talks about mental health.
Bressies talk on his website: A Lust for Life.
Bressie talks about his mate Jeffrey. (The name for his depression).
Bressie talks about self-harm.
Bressie talks about mental health awareness.
Bressie talks about positive mental health steps.
Good video by Bressie about what to say/not to say with someone with a mental health illness.
Good video by Bressie about beating mental health stereotypes.
This video below is a video that Bressie made especially for schools. It is called A Lust For Life / My1000Hours Mental Health video for Schools. They get many requests for Bressie to visit schools to do a talk on Mental Health, but unfortunately he can’t make it out to every school for a visit. They still wanted to get the message across to everyone asking for Bressie to attend and created this video to help get that message across to pupils and teachers. It is inspirational and it is also an excellent resource for schools.
Bressie is such a good and inspirational leader. Bressie points out in many of his talks that mental health is the biggest illness in Ireland. I recommend you to introduce him to your students’! He is a great inspirational leader for SPHE, Leaving Cert Religion non-exam or even just general well-being for all of your students.
Bressie is not a teacher in a school but yet he is doing SO much for the students in our schools. He cant do this alone. He needs help. So now I want you to think: ‘How can I help Bressie in his battle against the stigma of mental illness?!’