Broadcasters Eoghan McDermott, Chris Donoghue and Diarmuid Gavin, UFC sports star Aisling Daly and acclaimed musician Colm Mac Con Iomaire kicked off the 2016 First Fortnight mental health arts festival with a unique event in Christ Church Cathedral on New Year’s Day, which marked the start of two-weeks of First Fortnight events in Dublin and select venues nationwide. Other guests include British Snooker legend Willie Thorne, broadcaster John Bowman, Olympic star Kenneth Egan, former Dublin GAA star John Leonard, and acclaimed musicians Jennifer Evans, Anderson, King Kong Company and Spies. Now in its seventh year, First Fortnight 2016 will see live music, film, theatre, discussion and arts events staged to create open discussion and understanding of mental health problems, and challenge prejudice and discrimination. As well as ‘If Elected’, a discussion on what the political parties will do for mental health in this election year – which takes place in Dublin on January 13 in partnership with Mental Health Reform – movies as part of it’s programming, including the acclaimed Brian Wilson biopic ‘Love and Mercy’, starring Paul Dano and John Cusack, Disney Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ and new films ‘Gabriel’ and documentary ‘Buried Above Ground’. ‘Love & Mercy’ will be screened in cinemas nationwide in association with See Change, the National Mental Health Stigma Reduction Partnership, while First Fortnight will once again return to St Patrick’s Hospital for a series of unique events in association with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services. A children’s workshop around the themes of emotion expressed in the movie ‘Inside Out’ will take place at the festival, as well as the Irish premiere of ‘Gabriel’ starring Rory Culkin; the European Premiere of ‘Buried Above Ground’, a new documentary exploring Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, in association with Science Gallery Dublin; comedy from Alison Spittle; award-winning theatre productions Big Bobby. Little Bobby & Overshadowed (in association with BodyWhys); Co-Motion – a musical walking experience; stunning visual arts and dance events; and much, much more. Musicians who will feature throughout the festival include Jennifer Evans, ‘We Cut Corners’, ‘Saint Sister’, ‘State Lights’, the High Hopes Choir, Sean ‘Doctor’ Millar and Gavin Glass. RTÉ TV and Radio presenter Eoghan McDermott, who is an ambassador for First Fortnight, said of the festival: “I’m delighted to be an ambassador for First Fortnight. First Fortnight’s call to challenge mental health stigma is something that really resonates with me. Like many people, there have been times in the past when I’ve been depressed and unsure how to get better or who to turn to. “I know what it’s like to feel like you can’t ask for help. I know what it’s like to be embarrassed by your own feelings, but I also know what it feels like to have that weight lifted off your shoulders by talking to someone. Talking helps. There is no shame in experiencing a mental health problem, it happens to a lot of us. “I’m delighted to join the call of First Fortnight and all the great artists and acts taking part in this year’s festival to make 2016 the year when we end mental health stigma.” Check out the full line up for this two-week festival at http://www.firstfortnight.ie The festival will once again be centred around Dublin but will also host dance, theatre and film events in Galway, Wicklow, Limerick, Cork and Kildare. The 2016 First Fortnight festival is partnered by Mental Health Reform; St Patrick’s Mental Health Services; Mental Health Ireland and See Change, the National Mental Health Stigma Reduction Partnership.