In praise of First Fortnight
For far too long, there has been a widespread stigma associated with mental illness, a stigma that greatly exacerbates the difficulties faced by people suffering from these complex and traumatic health issues.
But that attitude is gradually changing as people develop a greater understanding of mental health issues, and sufferers are increasingly able to discuss their mental health without fear of discrimination.
It is difficult to overemphasise how important an event such as First Fortnight can be in helping such progress along. The two-week, arts-based mental health festival, which concludes today, has featured an impressive mix of concerts, theatre, film screenings, poetry readings and talks.
Since its inception in 2009, the festival has provided a refreshing platform in which mental health issues can be discussed and engaged with.
In doing so, it has changed the context in which mental health is usually discussed, with none of the all-too-frequent talk about helpless victims.
The participation of celebrated US character actor Joe Pantoliano, here to screen his film and talk about his own struggles with bipolar disorder, is indicative of how successful this young endeavour has become. Long may it continue.