Last night I had the pleasure of battling through a migraine and anxiety to go and see Adam Hills live in Belfast. Now, Adam's someone I look up to a huge amount. He's the person I look to at the end of the week when it seems that the whole world's gone mad and I need someone to make it possible for me to laugh again.
He also does a lot of work campaigning for cancer awareness. Now, I know the go-to saying is that mental health should be taken just as seriously as cancer, but that's not where I'm going with this. Bear with me.
A lot of what Adam Hills does when he's talking about cancer is normalise it. He makes it okay to talk about cancer and dying, something I think a lot of us struggle with.
Mental health is not the only illness that's surrounded by stigma. There's an element of stigma associated with cancer too. Adam goes some way toward tackling that stigma.
Another man I looked up to an awful lot but sadly never had the chance to meet, or even see live, was Robin Williams. Now, say what you like, but Robin did his bit too. He didn't hide his issues, but rather spoke out about them, even incorporated them into comedy routines.
Both cancer and mental illness are things that we need to stop being afraid of talking about. If we don't talk about them, how can we ever hope to tackle them effectively?
In conclusion, yes, public figures play an enormous role in tackling stigma, and I feel truly humbled to be growing up at a time when people will tastefully incorporate topics such as mental illness and cancer into comedy routines. I feel lucky when I turn on the TV and see people I've grown up watching in films standing on stages and talking about these topics, knowing that it hasn't always been this way.
It's been a long time coming, and whilst there's an awful lot of bad in the world right now, there's also an awful lot of good. Remember to turn your head and look at the good stuff every now and then.