Blindboy Boatclub on why he would 'never position himself as an expert' on mental health


Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.47 24 May 2021


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Podcaster and mental health advocate Blindboy Boatclub says he would never position himself as an expert on the subject.

It comes after one columnist suggested there is too much focus on opinion and experience over expertise on mental health.

Larissa Nolan of the Sunday Independent has claimed we should listen more to people with professional experience.

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She particularly singled out Blindboy, who has spoken out on his experience of mental health services.

In a tweet, he said when he speaks about mental health he does it "from a perspective of personal experience.

"That I'm not qualified. And when I speak to actual experts on the podcast, I let it be known."

He told The Hard Shoulder he never identified himself as any kind of expert.

"I was disappointed in the piece, because it styled me as like a mental health guru - and that's absolutely not what I do.

"I have a weekly podcast, and maybe once a month or once every two months I speak about my own personal mental health experiences.

"I've battled depression, anxiety, all this carry on - and I also have a set of tools from psychology, like CBT transaction analysis, and I use these things as part of my self-help journey.

"So what I do on my podcast is I speak about how I personally use these things to help me to find meaning in my life to try and achieve happiness.

"And then people like to listen to that.

"But the thing is: I would never, even position myself as a expert.

"I always say to people 'I am not an expert on mental health, I'm not qualified in mental health, I'm speaking about my personal experiences.

"And then sometimes I'll bring on actual experts... and then I'll draw the difference of 'This person's an expert in their field'.

"So I'm quite responsible and ethical about how I speak about mental health.

"I'd never weighed into any territory that would be irresponsible - you'll rarely hear me talk about suicide, medication.

"I have opinions on these things [but] you're not going to hear me speaking about them because it would be wildly irresponsible.

"But I will bring on someone like Dr Pat Bracken, who used to be the head of the Psychiatry Association in Ireland, and he'll speak about medicine".

'Basic, simple stuff'

He said he tries to keep things simple for this listeners.

"What I try to do is - yes, I do speak about simple things because I'm not an expert.

"I speak about the most simple concepts of emotional awareness, understanding what our emotions are, having emotional literacy, knowing what mindfulness is, understanding theories from cognitive psychology.

"This is really basic, simple stuff - and the reason I say really basic, simple stuff in an accessible way is that's my level of qualification.

"From a mental health point of view, it's the equivalent of speaking about eating the right food, that's as far as I go".

'Dr Luke O'Neill'

And he added that some people are better suited than others.

"Think of someone like Dr Luke O'Neill, who we've heard loads from this year.

"Luke is unique because he's an expert in his field and he's also a science communicator.

"So he has both abilities of being an expert, and being able to communicate really complex ideas in a simple accessible way.

"Not all experts have that capacity - Luke does.

"When I speak about my mental health, I think what draws people towards it is I'm an artist, I'm a writer, I write books and fiction and stories.

"And I bring storytelling into how I speak about my mental health, so that it becomes entertaining and engaging".

And he said he would not like people to use his podcast in lieu of real services.

"Sometimes I get very upset that people will listen to my podcast for mental health reasons, because the reason they're doing this is because they can't access services.

"And it's the same thing over and over again: people don't feel like they can access adequate mental health services in this country.

"And when you have a structural failing like that, you're going to find some people popping up who don't have qualifications.

"Now I try and be as responsible as possible, but what's stopping someone else not being responsible if you get me?"

Blindboy Boatclub on why he would 'never position himself as an expert' on mental health

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

  

Main image: Blindboy Boatclub speaks to The Hard Shoulder. Picture by: Newstalk

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Blindboy Boatclub Larissa Nolan Luke O'Neill Mental Health

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