Fighting Mental Health Stigma with Art‘We’ll have two shows of live spoken word.  We’ll also have live street art…  For a small fee we’ll write a personalised poem to you…’

As heard on arena

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First Fortnight is upon us, a festival aimed at destigmatizing issues surrounding mental health.  As part of the programme, Out Straight, a collective that celebrates urban life and art, is taking over The Bernard Shaw Pub in Dublin on Saturday 6th January.  They’ll be putting on a visual art and poetry extravaganza aimed at bringing to light social and economic situations faced by the youth.  Members Lewis Kenny and Shane Ha joined Kay Sheehy on Arena to explain what the day will entail.

“We’ll have two shows of live spoken word.  We’ll also have live street art…  We actually have a couple of typewriters that we bring into our shows…  For a small fee we’ll write a personalised poem to you… Alternatively what we more try to do is get people to write their own poems.”

Expressing yourself is the aim of the game and seven artists are going to be painting a spectacular mural across a huge wall on the theme of mental health awareness.  Shane is tight-lipped about the piece he plans create – you’ll have to head down to see it for yourself – but says it’s based around a sense of emerging from personal struggles.

“There isn’t a definite line between each artist so we all try and fit in like a puzzle all around each other…  Everyone’s different pieces link into one big scene.”

Lewis performed one of his poems that dealt with the topic of his mother’s mental health and describes the hug that inspired it.

“My mam was sitting on the couch and I just went over to give her a hug and she literally broke down in my arms.  I ended up having a chat with her for a couple of hours and she started telling me how she thinks she’s depressed…  It just got me thinking about what part… did we all have to play in that.  Thankfully she’s in a better place now.”

Head along to The Bernard Shaw from noon until closing time on Saturday 6th to witness Out Straight in action and check out firstfortnight.ie for details of more events around the country.  If you’ve been affected by issues raised in this interview, you can find help at samaritans.org

Click here to listen to Arena in full.

© The Listener 2018

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