Newstalk’s Mental Wealth series

Mental Wealth is Newstalk’s brand new podcast series about people’s mental health experiences and the tools of recovery.

The first episode has launched and takes a fresh approach to mental health discussion in Ireland. As opposed to looking at sufferers as victims, this programme engages with sufferers as people of mental wealth, people who have experienced hardship in their lives and, as a result, have important and useful insights. The series benefits from a vibrant and irreverent approach, using music, movies, books and other interests to bring each interviewee’s story to life. Mental Wealth focuses on experiences of recovery and is concerned with empowering listeners with helpful advice.

Newstalk’s Simon Tierney presents the podcast, with new episodes available on a monthly basis, dealing with depression, anorexia, bipolar disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, trichotillomania and OCD.

See Change Ambassador, Irish comedian, poet and writer, John Moynes is the guest for the first episode, which deals with depression. In 1998, John was the Welfare Officer for the UCD Students Union. The committee decided to run an awareness campaign about depression. The organisation Aware sent the union a list of symptoms of the condition. There were eight symptoms on their list and it advised visiting a GP if you were experiencing more than three or four of them.

“I was typing up these symptoms on to a poster I was designing, and literally every single symptom on the list, I thought, ‘Yeah, I get that’”.

During the episode, John talks extensively about his coping mechanisms for dealing with depression, including a look at how cognitive behavioural therapy has helped him. He discusses the solace he finds in comic films such as Kelly’s Heroes and the wit of Spike Milligan and considers his trials and tribulations with dating, eating and socialising while experiencing a depressive episode.

Cora McEvoy, a yoga teacher and mother-of-three from Louth, sits down with host Simon Tierney for episode two of Mental Wealth. During the interview Cora discusses her experience with anorexia, from her admission to St Vincent’s Hospital with a critically low BMI to her journey to recovery and the tools she uses to maintain her positive mental health.

What is perhaps most enlightening about this month’s episode is that Cora reveals the often overlooked crux of anorexia for many people – control. In the beginning, Cora had wanted to tone up and engage in exercise but quickly any preoccupation with her own body image vanished and the anorexia was driven solely by her desire to have a sense of control over her life.

“You can control what goes into your body, what comes out of your body, how you exercise. You felt like everything else you couldn’t control in your life but that was the one small part of it that you could, and you felt safe being able to control that”.

During the interview Cora discusses the long road to breaking down these negative thought processes and regaining a positive sense of herself and her relationship with food. She also discusses how music, television and yoga have offered her respite during difficult times.

In episode 3, Ciaran describes his experience of bipolar disorder. Ciaran says his life was out of control during difficult times with the illness.

“The manic side, at the time, is brilliant, but when everything gets back to normal you wake up and say to yourself, ‘what did I do, how did I do that, why did I do that?’, that’s when the depression stage hits you,” he explains during the interview.

However, after a period in hospital and extensive care Ciaran has managed to take control of the disorder and shares his story with Newstalk. Ciaran is keen to offer his take on the tools of recovery, including the benefits of keeping a mood diary, his interest in Pearl Jam and how fantasy fiction can offer periods of respite from the battles of the mind.

In episode 4, Laura Lee describes her experience of obsessive compulisive disorder.

Despite the difficulties experienced by those with OCD, it is a very treatable illness. The problem, as with many conditions, is that sufferers don’t ask for help due to the often humiliating or embarrassing aspects of the disorder.

“I feel like years ago I was battling OCD and I wasn’t winning. Now I’m battling OCD everyday, but I’m winning. I’m in control of it rather than it being in control of me”.

Katie, a student from Dublin, sits down with presenter Simon to discuss her experiences of the condition trichotillomania (sometimes known as TTM or problem hair-pulling) the tools of recovery in episode 5.

One of the major battles with trichotillomania is the stigma surrounding it. During the interview, Katie also discusses the ways in which CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) helped her to deal with the condition.

Follow updates on Twitter (@NewstalkFM) and use the hashtag #MentalWealthNT

Listen to Mental Wealth Episode 1: Writer and comedian John Moynes talks about treating depression

Listen to Mental Wealth Episode 2: Cora McEvoy describes her experience of anorexia

Listen to Mental Wealth Episode 3: Ciaran describes his experience of bipolar disorder

Listen to Mental Wealth Episode 4: Laura Lee describes her experience of obsessive compulsive disorder

Listen to Mental Wealth Episode 5: Katie describes her experience of the condition trichotillomania (sometimes known as TTM or problem hair-pulling)

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