Eoghan McDermott, Aine Stapleton, Chris Donoghue and Camille Ross will be well known faces at the First Fortnight festival. Picture: Conor McCabe

FIRST Fortnight – a festival aimed at promoting positive mental health in that gloomy, post-Christmas season when people are most susceptible to mental health difficulties – takes place in Dublin during the first two weeks of January.
Now in its seventh year, First Fortnight 2016 involves live music, film, theatre, discussion and arts events staged to create open discussion and understanding of mental health problems, and challenge prejudice and discrimination.
The events taking place across Dublin and selected venues nationwide include Proclamation – a unique evening of talk and music on New Year’s Day at Christ Church Cathedral, in partnership with Mental Health Ireland.
The evening will feature a number of well-known Irish faces, including Diarmuid Gavin, Mary McEvoy, Chris Donoghue and Eoghan McDermott. It is being staged in association with New Year’s Festival Dublin.
If Elected – a discussion on what the political parties will do for mental health in this coming election year – will take place in Dublin on January 13, in partnership with Mental Health Reform.
The debate will involve representatives from all the major political parties going head-to-head in a public debate chaired by RTE broadcaster John Bowman.
Love and Mercy – the acclaimed biopic of Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson – will be screened in the Pavilion theatre, Dun Laoghaire and UCD Student Cinema on January 11, in association with See Change, the National Mental Health Stigma Reduction Partnership.
This year, First Fortnight will once again return to St Patrick’s Hospital for a series of unique events, in association with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services. This will include It Made You – a live performance featuring songwriters of the St Pat’s services and Sean Miller, Gavin Glass, and Kevin Nolan on Saturday, January 9.
Other musicians who will feature throughout the festival include Jennifer Evans, We Cut Corners, Saint Sister, State Lights, and the Focus Ireland High Hopes Choir.
First Fortnight co-founder and project manager JP Swaine said the festival had become synonymous with fresh, creative and innovative ways to spark the national conversation on mental health.
He said: “Each festival that passes seems to encourage a new crop of artists to work creatively in response to mental health as an issue in Irish society, and it has been hugely encouraging to meet artists who have been developing their work with the express purpose of contributing to First Fortnight.”
He said changing attitudes to mental health in Ireland had grown into a movement.
“First Fortnight and its mental health partners proclaim that considerable work remains to be done to make Ireland a more tolerant, compassionate and empathic place for those living with the experience of mental ill health.”
For further information, see www.firstfortnight.ie.