22 Jan 2022

Sports stars open up about their depression struggles as part of new campaign

Conversations about mental illness help people find the right support

Talking Depression

Talking Depression ambassadors Dan Shanahan, Maurice Shanahan and Nicole Owens, with The Little Book of Big Conversations

Former Waterford hurler Maurice Shanahan and Dublin ladies senior footballer Nicole Owens are lending their support to Talking Depression, a new campaign to encourage open and honest conversations.

Launched by Janssen Sciences Ireland UC, the campaign comes as new research reveals that almost half of Irish adults (47%) do not feel equipped to have a conversation with a family member or friend who they suspect may be experiencing a mental illness, despite almost two thirds (62%) having more empathy towards mental illnesses, such as depression, compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

By taking the time to understand more about depression and encouraging conversations about mental illness, more people can have a chance to find the right support for them.

To help take that first step a new resource, The Little Book of Big Conversations has been created to support people living with all forms of depression, their family members and friends. It is full of practical advice to help make those big conversations about depression a little easier.

Maurice Shanahan, who has spoken about attempting suicide as a result of depression, said: “Back then I could never have dreamt that I would be married with a baby girl and the joy and love that comes with that.

"Although many people struggled to understand what I was going through, they never gave up trying to talk to me or get me out of the house to puck a ball around. If it wasn’t for my friends and family continuing to support me, I would never have reached a turning point in my journey.”

Nicole Owens, who has been living with depression since she was a teenager, said: “Once I had that first conversation with my mum and opened up about how I was feeling, it was like a weight had been lifted from me. It didn’t mean everything was instantly better, but I now had somebody on my side, and I was no longer on my own.

"Looking back, I always knew my mum was there for me, even when I wasn’t ready to talk.  If someone decides to open up to you, be patient, show you care and keep checking in. Sometimes it is even the small gestures, like a text message to show you are thinking of them, that can really help.”

The Little Book of Big Conversations can be accessed at book-big-conversations 

The Talking Depression video series can be accessed at

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