When Seamus Kelleher, an Irish-born professional musician and now an adjunct assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Medicine, was 20 years old, he was in a successful rock-and-roll band. However, he was having a hard time and suffered a nervous breakdown on night after finishing a show to over a thousand people.
His father realized that he was struggling to get through the day and suggested he seek professional help. Kelleher spent five weeks in a psychiatric hospital being treated for severe depression and anxiety. “This was back in Ireland, and this was 45 years ago, there was a stigma attached to mental illness,” he said.
It’s now his passion to help reduce that stigma attached to mental illness and be an advocate for people who are living with depression and anxiety. “I realized that because I got the help that I needed, maybe I could help people who struggle.
I teach mental wellness best practices, things that have worked for me,” Kelleher said. “There’s always hope as long as you’re willing to get help. You can’t do this alone. I’m living proof and have lived a happy a full life despite occasional struggles.”
His message for those living with mental health concerns: “It’s okay to have a bad day or maybe even two bad days, but if you are in despair, feeling sad and experiencing a loss of hope, then you absolutely need help—you don’t have to live like that. There’s help available—through therapy, through counseling, medication or if the symptoms are severe, a brief stay in hospital, but that’s alright too, I’ve been there twice. It’s the reason why I’m still alive.”
As for those who may have friends or loved ones they’re concerned about, Kelleher has some advice for them as well. “People feel very alone when they’re struggling with depression and anxiety, so by you just getting involved, you’ve already lifted the burden and they’re going to feel better,” he said. “And don’t wait too long because if somebody is in crisis and especially if they’re suicidal, you need to act immediately. That can start by just asking them if they are ok and starting a conversation. The idea is to sow the seeds of hope, get them talking and get them to see a professional who can treat their condition.” You don’t have to have medical training to ASK THE QUESTION. It may help save a life.
Watch the videos he made for Suicide Awareness Week, September 14-18, 2020