A comedian and counsellor who runs a weekly mental health support group in Lichfield is ready to conquer her fears to raise money for a project close to her heart.
Sheila McMahon – who performed her stand-up show at the Garrick last month – is planning to undertake a tandem hang-glide, despite being scared of heights.
The fundraising initiative will help support a series of online shows about mental health.
The Irish-born stand-up told LichfieldLive last year how comedy and training as a counsellor had helped her own battles with depression.
“Unfortunately, in today’s society, mental health is still a taboo subject, which doesn’t help the people who suffer with it,” she said. “When we brush mental health issues under the carpet it doesn’t make them go away, it just makes the fear stronger.
“Talking about the issues and sharing stories of how people have helped themselves and others can help break the feeling of isolation that many people experience, and help put people in a position of understanding, personal power and choice.
“That’s why educating people about mental health is so important, and I’m hoping that the online shows can help off-load many of the negative elements so we can start laughing our way to better mental well-being.”
Sheila – who also runs a free monthly mental health support group at the Garrick – will add a comedy element to her fundraising challenge, as she’ll be doing the hang-glide as her comedy character, nun Sister Mary.
Dressed in her black and white robes, Sheila will be taking Sister Mary closer to God in the safe hands of older brother Geoffrey, who has actually held the record for the longest hang-gliding flight in Ireland for the last ten years.
And she hopes the new online shows to be filmed in the Midlands will answer some of the questions people have about the issues surrounding mental health.
“There are already quite a few TV programmes about physical health issues, but I don’t think there are enough shows yet about mental health – I’ve certainly not seen anything similar to what I’d like to present,” she said.
“I want these mental health shows to cover issues that many people want or need to talk about, but aren’t normally able to discuss in general conversation. I believe they will help get these issues out in the open, so we can talk about the symptoms, discuss causes and highlight different ways to cope, so the people suffering with these health problems don’t feel so alone in their suffering.
“I believe everybody, given the right knowledge, support and environment, can become victorious in their own life – and I want to use my counselling and comedy skills to make that a possible reality for everyone. “
For more information about Sheila’s fundraising mission visit www.mindmanagementforyou.com.