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'Mental health difficulties are still fraught with stigma' - New mural challenges Ireland's attitudes

The mural is the latest work by street artist Joe Caslin.

8616 Mental Health Murals_90523005 Joe Caslin with the mural. Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

A MURAL THAT attempts to “humanise the narratives around mental health” has gone up at the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks.

The mural is the latest work by street artist Joe Caslin, who is known for his large-scale black and white drawings. The mural is the second in his series The Volunteers.

The three pieces will have as their central theme volunteerism and the people who volunteer.

Following the first installation in the series on Trinity College’s Front Square in June of this year, Caslin has chosen to focus this piece and its accompanying short film on the theme of mental health and the enduring stigmas around mental illness.

The mural features 20-year-old GAA athlete and volunteer Cormac Coffey and Eanna Walsh, a 28-year-old man who in 2014 was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Caslin says the piece “attempts to humanise the complex narratives around mental health and mental health care, placing treatment as a health issue and not an offense to be shamed and hidden away”.

“I believe the artist has a valued place in Irish society and that we are ‘cultivators of empathy’. Our role is to be observant at all times and to do our best to create debate and feedback.

“To hold a mirror up; to advocate and to provoke. Attitudes to mental health difficulties are still to this day fraught with stigma and negativity.”

Caslin’s previous pieces too have focussed on prevalent social issues in Irish society.

Perhaps his most famous work was the mural advocating for same-sex marriage which appeared on George’s Street in 2015.

The project has been jointly funded by the Arts Council of Ireland – Next Generation Bursary and Trinity College – Creative Challenge.

Read: ‘Why would you continue to perpetuate something that is wrong?’: New mural challenges Ireland’s drug laws

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