‘We need to walk the walk on mental health’ – Mary McEvoy

While we have learned to ‘talk the talk’ on mental health issues, we now need to ‘walk the walk’, according to actress Mary McEvoy.

Mary who famously played the part of Biddy in ‘Glenroe’ has worked with See Change – which is dedicated to ending mental health stigma, and spoken about suffering from depression.

Responsibility

“Some people still don’t get that we all have a personal responsibility for our mental health and also that we have a direct effect on other people’s mental health when we talk behind their backs, spread rumours about them or are unkind.

“All that has a huge effect on people; but we have to deal with it by realising that maybe that person was having a bad day,” she said.

There is terrible pressure on farmers to produce, produce, produce but I don’t think that we are naturally suited to that sort of drive. Farmers work with the seasons.

Rather than being driven by numbers, farmers need to take time to enjoy nature and have the ability to soak up a sunset without dismissing that as being ‘soft’, she contended.

“We need to set aside time to sit and look around us and appreciate nature. With office jobs, the general consensus is that people need to take time out and go to a park and look at the trees. Farmers also need to be nurtured by their surroundings – that’s not airy fairy rubbish but general wisdom.

“Busyness is highly over-rated – I’m just back from swimming in my local lake with a friend and it’s the highlight of my day.”

Being environmentally aware and a good farmer are not mutually exclusive, she stressed.

“From my particular belief system, everything connects. The land is connected to us and we are connected to the land. I don’t think we can batter it into submission.”

Farmers need to talk to each other and their spouses or partners and allow themselves to be vulnerable, Mary said.

Although she continues to live on the farm where she grew up in Westmeath, Mary no longer actively farms.

“The remaining sheep are all pets. I get an incredible sense of fulfilment from looking after them. I also get an incredible sense of satisfaction from having gone into hardwood forestry. In some way I am trying to repair the damage being done to the environment.”

Rubbish

Swimming regularly in her local lake, she is dismayed at the amount of rubbish left behind there as well as in other parts of the countryside.

“What puts me in depression is going down to that beautiful lake which is thronged in summer and seeing the amount of rubbish people leave behind them.

I ask myself: ‘Is this your reaction to the beauty given to us? Would you not mind it?’ I find it so upsetting that people don’t look after it.

Additional CCTV and more reporting of offenders would help crack down on dumping on isolated rural roads, Mary contended. “I’m not a fan of being observed but it might get us somewhere in tackling the problem,” she said.

“I recently went to visit a friend in an extremely rural part of France and you could eat your dinner off the roads and fields – there wasn’t a speck. It made me feel ashamed.”

Mary can be seen in the Dunamaise Theatre, Portlaoise, on June 21, and in the Mermaid, Bray, on June 23. ‘The Successful TD’ is based on a John B. Keane play, adapted by Mary along with Jon Kenny and Michael Scott.