Regina podcast creator to host second public panel discussion and fundraiser

Shawn Broom will host a panel and live podcast on mental health stigma on Tuesday.

Shawn Broom previously hosted a panel and live podcast on sexual assault

Shawn Broom, right, hosts the podcast Story of U. He's hosting a live podcast and panel discussion on mental health stigmas Tuesday, including Erika Hodson, left.

Shawn Broom began his podcast adventure in earnest, in 2016.

The premise of his weekly podcast, 'Story of U', is simple: Broom has guests, regular people, on every week and they talk about their life story.

Perusing through the list of guests Broom has had, it is easy to notice the themes emerging: perseverance and overcoming adversity are among the most prominent.

In one episode, a woman talks about her sexually abusive upbringing, adopting her son and her careers with the police and being a teacher. Other episodes talk about coming out, struggles with mental health, starting a business from scratch or growing up abroad.  

His guests are scientists, artists and business owners, among other things. What Broom's work does is make it easy to see that everyone has a story.

Second live podcast

Last fall he hosted a live podcast and panel discussion about sexual assault, with proceeds from tickets donated to the Regina Sexual Assault Centre. Tuesday, Broom will host another, this time with a focus on mental health and the stigma that comes along with that. Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Regina branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

"It affects everyone. There are so many people that deal with mental health issues big or small," Broom said, speaking on why he decided to go with this as his latest live topic.

"People have a lot of misconceptions about what mental illness and mental health issues are. We want to address all of these mental health issues and show people that they're not alone."

One of the panelists, Erika Hodson, said she felt compelled to share her story because she wants others to realize the scope of mental illness.

"It's not just being sad when you're depressed, it's physically not being able to get out of bed, physically not being able to dress yourself or bathe yourself sometimes when it gets to that point," she said.

"I think it's just important to open a dialogue with people. There's much more to it than what society tells them."

Hodson also emphasized how difficult it can be to ask for help.

'I'm doing it because I want other people who have anxiety and depression and PTSD to realize that it's okay to talk about it.' - Erika Hodson

"It was a very hard thing to do. I remember sitting there in my doctor's office shaking and just feeling so ashamed that I had to ask for help, which is completely ridiculous," she said.

"People should just not be afraid of that."

'They're not alone'

Broom said the goal is to let people know support is available.

"The biggest thing I want people to take away is that they're not alone, and knowing that there are programs out there to get help," he said.

"A lot of people don't know that there are a lot of services out there for them. The [Regina Public Library] has a free counselling session, and that's an amazing thing that someone who maybe isn't going to get help because they can't afford it can now go to and get the help that they need."

"I'm doing it because I want other people who have anxiety and depression and PTSD to realize that it's okay to talk about it," Hodson said.  

The event is at The Artesian on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. CST. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 cash at the door.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend