"Stigma - we’ve got to remove that word and show that people can open up about talking": JOE chats to new Upbeat FM presenter Aidan Power
We talk bad jokes, Oasis fan-boys and the important topic of mental health awareness...
Upbeat FM has hit the airwaves and it is helping to promote positive mental health across the country with the help of some of Ireland's best known personalities.
One of whom is Aidan Power, who took time out of his busy schedule to have a chat with JOE about Upbeat FM and to take our Tombola of Truth challenge. More on that later...
JOE: So, Aidan, can you tell us a bit about Upbeat FM?
Aidan Power: Yeah, sure. So Upbeat FM is a pop-up radio station that is running from St. Patrick’s University Hospital for a week with live on-air programming and it’s main aim is to promote mental health.
JOE: Where can we listen to it and how can the listeners get involved?
Aidan Power: Well, it’s a multi-city station, so that means while it’s not fully nationwide, it’s across most of the country. The main places would be Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Tipp, Waterford, Kilkenny and up as far as Longford.
Upbeat FM was actually on the air before back in October, so due to the success of that they decided to bring it back and I’ve gotten on board this time around to help them out.
It’s in a bunch of different of cities, its on FM but it’s also on Upbeat.ie. All the presenters are just there to help out and do our bit, but so far it has been very enjoyable. Listeners can text the studio on 085 2299028 or email into us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JOE: So in your own opinion, why is there such a stigma around mental health and how can we combat this?
Aidan Power: I think it’s something that has always been there, but we’ve only really confronted it in the last few years. That’s my view on it. But I think great work has been done by people to recognise it.
I recently interviewed football pundit Richie Sadlier and he has done some great work in the area of mental health and trained himself in the work of psychotherapy. He said, the one thing most people are afraid of is saying anything wrong about mental health, or not knowing what it means.
So rather than confront it, people would rather not talk about it. It’s a minefield for a lot of people. So for a lot of people, whether they’re experiencing mental health difficulties or not, they tend to shy away from it.
The people experiencing it often struggle to reach out and then people not experiencing it just don’t know enough about it to talk about mental health. And then there’s always that thing that if we do talk about it, we’re labelling it and it becomes an issue.
It’s nearly like learning something that we never knew before. People wake up in the morning and think about the bodies and their physical health, but it should be the same thing for mental health. It’s just as important and operates in the same way as your physical health.
Even that word, ‘stigma’, we’ve got to remove the word and show that people can open up about talking about their problems without it being a problem. But I’m not qualified enough to say where it’s at now. It seems, to me at least, that there’s much more awareness about it.
JOE: Do you think it’s more difficult for men to open up about mental health, considering there’s this notion of having to put on a brave face?
Aidan Power: I think so yeah, certainly anecdotally, they say women find it easier to talk to one another. It can be especially tough for young guys. I’m in my mid-30s and it’s much easier now for the lads to chat in an honest way and to drop the guard and to drop the mask and if everything isn’t all right you can feel comfortable to say it.
Certainly when we were younger there was none of that. It just wasn’t a thing and if you felt in anyway down or anything like that, you kind of just sucked it up the best you could and got on with it. But I certainly find the older I’m getting the more comfortable I would be talking about things if I felt I needed to.
JOE: So you’re down in St. Patrick’s University Hospital at the moment. What's it like?
Aidan Power: Well, the first thing that struck me about St. Patrick’s University Hospital was just how amazing the place is. It’s a really bright, happy facility. It’s certainly not what you might conjure up in your mind as a place where people go to seek treatment for mental health.
There is a wonderful positive feeling to the place. Any sort of misconceptions I had of what a place like that looks like on the inside were completely wrong. It’s an incredibly upbeat environment.
We’ve already interviewed various different members of staff who work on various different treatment programmes. Their approach seems very positive.
JOE: So what’s the first thing someone should do if they’re going through depression, or if they think someone they know is feeling down or out of sorts?
Aidan Power: Well I wouldn’t be qualified to give that information, you’d need to speak to a therapist in the field, but I’d certainly say if you’re feeling something and it doesn’t feel right, talk to someone about it.
Someone you feel you can trust whether it’s a parent, a teacher, or a work colleague and if it’s not someone like that, if it needs to be anonymous there are plenty of services there.
You can contact them by phone or email, but there are people there willing to listen. I think the message most people try to get across in the area of mental health is that it’s okay if you’re not feeling okay.
I think the thing a lot of people struggle with is ‘why do I feel like this’ and thinking that the negative feelings will never change, but by reaching out for help, it can be helped.
That’s really the message to convey here: There IS help. No matter how low you’re feeling, there’s some form of help out there for you.
And now, for the JOE Tombola of Truth…
In case you're one of the three people who doesn't know what the JOE Tombola of Truth is, let us explain. The JOE team has come up with 50 questions which are conveniently numbered 1-50.
Impressive, we know.
These are random questions about life, sport, music, movies, craic and the rest of it. Anything goes.
We give the interviewee, in this case, Aidan Power, various different attempts at spinning the JOE Tombola of Truth and, depending on which number is pulled out, we ask the corresponding question.
Let the spin begin...
JOE: Blur or Oasis?
Aidan Power: Oasis! Mainly because growing up Oasis were God and also because I stood outside the Clarence Hotel for about eight hours back in the day and Noel Gallagher waved at us and we were the happiest kids in the world – like groupies we were. We stood outside for the eight hours and he literally just waved. Ah, pathetic looking back (laughs)...
JOE: Indoor or outdoor gigs?
Aidan Power: Hmmm. I’m going to say outdoors. I’m going to try remain young on this one. So it’s outdoors.
JOE: If you could change any law what would it be and why?
Aidan Power: Simple. I’d extend the weekend. Three day weekend for all.
JOE: Well, you've got JOE's vote. Can you name more than 15 Simpsons characters?
Aidan Power: I used to be a fan, but 15? Ah jaysus no. I’ve friends that could definitely answer this, but no, not this one. tigmaorry.
JOE: What advice would you give to your adolescent self?
Aidan Power: Don’t smoke. Simple as that.
JOE: What’s your go-to karaoke song?
Aidan Power: Mack the Knife. Because I can’t sing, but you can sing that one really low. You can almost speak it.
JOE: Have you ever been naked in public.
Aidan Power: Yes...
JOE: Would you care to elaborate on that?
Aidan Power: No… (laughs). Ah no, I was naked outdoors, technically, but there weren’t many people around.
JOE: So what’s your go-to joke? Clean or otherwise, we won’t judge.
Aidan Power: My go to joke? Ah I’m shit at telling jokes, but my go-to joke would have to be: What do you call an egg on a motorbike? … A mad-yoke.
Yeah, it’s pretty shit. Even if I hear the best joke in the world, I’ll tell it appallingly bad.
JOE: Finally would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?
Aidan Power: I would fancy my changes against a… Wait, this is a Chris Moyles question isn't it? I’m trying to weigh up what’s the correct thing. I’d go with the duck-sized horses. No, hang on… One-horse sized duck.
Yeah, ducks aren’t very aggressive. I’d rather my chances against one massive duck than a load of small horses. Yeah I couldn’t deal with 100 of them milling around...