In the aftermath of his recent campaigns, Dáirne Black takes a look at how Niall Breslin is fighting to end the stigma surrounding mental health.

With a string of hits both with his band The Blizzards and as a solo artist, a spot as a judge on The Voice of Ireland, a model girlfriend and a new television show it’s easy to think that Niall Breslin has it all.

Known to us all as Bressie, the Mullingar man is familiar face on the Irish media circuit for his career and his involvement in music.

As a teenager he suffered with mental health issues which went undiagnosed and proceeded to get worse as he progressed to adulthood. Bressie did not realise what he had, and thought it was asthma.

“As a teenager, you want to know what’s wrong and you can’t rationalize what it is, I wasn’t able to socialise pretty much, I just hid myself in my room”. “It was pretty consuming to be honest”.   

However, over the past few months, Bressie began to not only speak out and talk about Mental Health but revealed his personal battle with it.

At the recent One Young World conference held in Dublin, he took to the stage as part of a session on ‘Disability’ with fellow disability rights activists such a Joanne O’Riordan and Mark Pollock, he spoke about his anxiety disorder, the stigma attached to it, and his mission to break this stigma by any means possible.

For Bressie, despite having this ‘general anxiety disorder’ he states, “I truly believe it’s given me an edge”.

Bressie’s disability was one of the mind.  He felt that Depression was the most misunderstood thing in this country and that society has put up a stigma around. Stating that the media was needed in breaking this stigma

“If the media can make people like the Kardashians relevant it shows you how powerful they actually really are and what they could do”.

Speaking on Brendan O’Connor’s Saturday night show, Bressie spoke about taking that first step and the build up to it. Having tried medication, mediation and other methods, but for him it was physical fitness. Despite playing professional rugby, he was forced to retire due to injury, however, he reintroduced this high level fitness back into his life in a unique way by taking on a goal.

Not one for doing things lightly, he began doing triathlons, and in the processed faced up to a personal fear .

“I had a massive fear of water, I hated fish hated everything about water”.

Conquering his fear, Bressie soon realized he had control over himself.

“When I was doing the first swim in the middle of I started to realize I control myself I control my mind and that was a very liberating place to be”.

So, why, did Bressie decide to make the move to speak out about it and bare all to the nation?

“I wanted to normalise it. Mental health isn’t a limb so you assume you can’t see it.

“It was definitely a difficult thing for me to come out and speak out it but in hindsight it was one the best decisions I’ve ever made and I wish I had made it when I was fifteen”.

Bressie has recently launched ‘My 1000 Hours’ a website dedicated to helping improve both physical and mental health.

The website provides videos, and blog posts on various themes and topics. The title of the site stems from how long it took to get things on track, and gives evidence to the fact that getting your mental on track is not an over-night project.