Opening up about your mental health is one of the toughest things to do. You don't know how people will react. Will they be supportive? Will they look at me differently? Will they judge me? It's a major step but one that is so worthwhile. Those who publicly discuss their struggles are helping others see that they are not alone and that there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Each story is helping beat the stigma surrounding mental health, slowly but surely.
I never thought I'd be able to speak about my anxiety disorder on such a public scale, but I did and it forever remains one of the best decisions I made. Knowing that my therapist and friends are only a call away gives me the biggest sense of reassurance. Simply talking through your problems over the phone somehow makes things seem that little bit lighter, which is why I just can't get enough of George Ezra and Ollie MN's new podcast Phone a Friend.
Phone a Friend is a podcast that captures George and Ollie's honest and light-hearted conversations about life and how they are feeling. The aim of the podcast is to encourage listeners to discuss their mental health and wellbeing in the same way, because there truly is no shame in reaching out to a friend and saying, "I'm actually not doing too good this week."
To hear two people, especially two men, talk about their mental health in such a normal and genuine way knocked me back at first. We have always been told to "put on a brave face" and opening up about your mental health was viewed as attention seeking. In Ireland, we struggled to address issues like anxiety or depression and simply brushed these issues under the carpet by saying, "She's grand, her nerves are just at her."
What George and Ollie are doing is something we've needed for far longer than we realised. Hearing these two guys chat about how they feel and their personal struggles with depression or anxiety will help people see that talking does help and nobody should be afraid to do so.
It is without a doubt the best podcast I've listened to in quite some time, simply because it is so genuine and comforting. It has personally helped me feel less alone on the bad days and filled me with hope that one day we will all be able to talk about our mental health without fear.
Phone a Friend is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts now.