Mountmellick unites against depression

Last Saturday’s visit to Mountmellick by psychologist Shane Martin was a dream come true for Janet Stewart.

Last Saturday’s visit to Mountmellick by psychologist Shane Martin was a dream come true for Janet Stewart.

Janet, who lives in The Rock with her husband Philip, first heard Shane speak a year ago in Portlaoise, when he visited Le Chéile, an organisation that mentors young offenders, where she volunteers. After co-opting the help of her rector, Rev Ruth Noble, they went about bringing the Monaghan man to Mountmellick for the benefit of the whole community.

“I felt Shane did a wonderful job, he brought such a breath of fresh air to a serious project. It’s a dream I’ve had, to bring what he does to Mountmellick, so people could experience what I felt after I met him,” said Janet, who has experienced her own problems with depression.

“I have had counselling myself. Two years ago I took an overdose. There has been so much suicide in Mountmellick, the more people you talk to, you realise they are in so much bother, and under such stress,” she said frankly.

Shane Martin is a maverick in the psychology world, travelling around Ireland teaching students and communities how to combat depression and stress. He focuses on why some people are able to get through crises that damage others, and suggests ways of keeping mentally well, including exercise, music and hobbies. His easy raconteur style is entertaining but educational, and at times he had his Mountmellick audience in fits of laughter.

Through generous donations from local businesses, the course in the cosy Balcony Theatre was free to all, with a bucket collection for the MDA’s free counselling service. Despite fliers posted door to door. the turnout was small, but those that came were so impressed, that plans are afoot to repeat it next spring.

“I saw it in the Leinster, and came with my two daughters. One of them hadn’t intended to stay all day, but she cancelled her afternoon appointment. It was very worthwhile, the way he put things across, and held your interest. I hope to use some of his coping techniques, he really is excellent,” said Betty Metcalfe.

“It was a brilliant day, I really enjoyed it. It was a pity that more people didn’t avail of it, when it was free. This kind of thinking is really needed,” said another lady.

Janet was delighted that the Methodist Minister Rev William Hayes and Fr Francis McNamara PP also attended.

“The biggest pleasure for me is that all the churches came together. We all believe in the same God, and we all have the same pressures and stresses,” she said.

Fr McNamara agreed.

“It was lovely that the three main churches were there, that’s what it’s all about, we are all Christians. I couldn’t recommend Shane highly enough. I loved his approach, it was all based on scientific findings, but it was all about the power of positive thinking. As a priest, I know people find life difficult, sometimes too difficult, and it’s a worrying trend. It’s important to emphasise that we’ve one life to live, and to share it with others,” he said.

See Shane Martin’s website for more.