Skip to content

Play tackling mental health hosted by Hallam

In this story

Explore the people, themes, departments and research centres behind this story

Research centres

Lab4Living

Press contact

Jo Beattie

Contact us

For help with a story or to find an expert

Email: pressoffice@shu.ac.uk
Phone: 01142 252811

On social media

 Twitter (press office)
 Twitter (university)
 Facebook
 Instagram
 YouTube

21 September 2021

Play tackling mental health hosted by Hallam

Sheffield Hallam University is hosting a new play by an award-winning playwright tackling the issues of depression and suicide to help raise awareness and encourage discussion on difficult topics

Press contact: Jo Beattie | j.beattie@shu.ac.uk

City campus with fountains in foreground

The play, Is the Patient Breathing, was performed for the first time by professional actors at the University’s Lab4Living research centre at their new premises, the White Building, in Fitzalan Square, Sheffield yesterday (Tuesday 21 September) for an invited audience.   

Lab4Living is a leading design research group using creative practice and methods to develop products, services and interventions to promote dignity and enhance quality of life.

The play was written by Brian Daniels following the suicide of 31-year-old Ross McCarthy who took his own life following ten years of struggling with severe depression. Mr Daniels was so moved by a news report on Ross’s death that he felt compelled to write the piece inspired by Ross’s story.  

The performing arts provide another powerful tool to help us understand mental health issues

He has previously written plays covering health and social issues including dementia, palliative care and historical child abuse which have been widely performed for organisations including NHS Trusts, Hospitals, Hospices and Universities.  

Lab4Living co-director Professor Claire Craig said: “This timely and sensitive play explores the little spoken of subject of depression in young men and its potential consequences. In hosting the play, we hope to highlight this important issue and create a forum for discussion. The work represents the ongoing collaboration between Lab4Living and Brian and the role of performative arts in making visible little spoken of subjects which impact on health and wellbeing.

“Previous Lab4Living work has focussed on using design methods to visualise and manage chronic pain. The performing arts provide another powerful tool to help us understand mental health issues and barriers to support services.”

After a collaboration on Marie Curie funded research, Lab4Living hosted Brian’s previous play ‘Fighting for Life’ in April 2019. It explored themes of dementia and motor neurone disease.

Brain said: “Drama is an impactful way to create an environment of discussion and debate.  The audience identify with the characters and their situation and in the discussions which always follow my plays they share, sometimes for the first time, their own feelings about the issues raised.  An expert panel can often then signpost them to appropriate help agencies.” 

Ross’s dad Mike McCarthy said: “My family and I know that our lives will never be the same again.  Losing Ross is unbearably painful, but we are heartened beyond words to think that something so positive can come from our tragedy and the tragedy of thousands of others.  I believe that this play can help shine a light on something that is largely overlooked.  We are so grateful to Brian Daniels for his care and humanity in researching our story and for being bold enough to present a play based on a subject which has remained taboo for far too long.”

The team hopes to host further performances of the play for a public audience.

 

In this story

Explore the people, themes, departments and research centres behind this story

Research centres

Lab4Living

Press contact

Jo Beattie

Contact us

For help with a story or to find an expert

Email: pressoffice@shu.ac.uk
Phone: 01142 252811

On social media

 Twitter (press office)
 Twitter (university)
 Facebook
 Instagram
 YouTube

Share this page