Sylvester and Dubs GAA star Nicole Owens speaks out on mental health and encourages you to do the same


Dublin senior women’s footballer Nicole Owens of Malahide is supporting Talking Depression, a new campaign to encourage open and honest conversations about mental health.

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

By taking the time to better understand depression and encouraging conversations about mental illness, more people can be lucky enough 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’s packed with practical tips to make the big conversations about depression a bit easier.

The book is part of a larger global campaign created by Janssen in partnership with people living with depression and their loved ones and with the support of GAMIAN-Europe (the Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks in Europe) and from EUFAMI (European Federation of Associations of Families of People with Mental Illness).

The Talking Depression campaign also includes a series of videos featuring former Waterford pitcher Maurice Shanahan and his brother Dan, and senior Dublin footballer Nicole Owens.

In the series, Maurice and Dan share their different perspectives on Maurice’s experience living with depression and the importance of communication, while Nicole talks about the need to work harder to break down the stigma surrounding depression.

Nicole Owens, who has lived with depression since she was a teenager, said: “Once I had that first conversation with my mom and explained how I felt, it was like a weight had me over. been removed. It didn’t mean that everything was instantly better, but now I had someone by my side and I was no longer alone. Looking back, I always knew my mom was there for me, even when I wasn’t ready to speak. If someone decides to open up to you, be patient, show you care, and keep checking back. Sometimes it’s even small gestures, like texting to show you care, that can really help.

A public survey of 1,000 people in Ireland, conducted by Empathy Research on behalf of Janssen, found that 78% of adults are likely to have a conversation with a family member or friend they suspect is in pain mental illness.

However, they were concerned about upsetting the person they were talking to (81%), saying the wrong thing (79%), or not understanding the other person’s experience (73%). Ireland has one of the highest rates of mental illness in Europe and it is estimated that around 150,000 people a year live here with severe depression (also known as major depressive disorder or MDD).


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