Chris McNaghten, a strongman from Northern Ireland and owner of Inspire Gym Larne, has spent the last 3 years working in mental health. Chris has held talks from primary schools to universities, small businesses to larger corporate companies. His impact on mental health and the LGBT+ community has been massive.
Chris competes as a strongman, which is an extreme weight-lifting sport. The main task in the competition is to pick up heavy objects and move them.
Chris now focuses his time into training for future strongman shows while travelling the world holding seminars, talks and workshops on mental health and LGBT+ awareness.
Chris has been an ambassador for mental health in Northern Ireland. He filmed and directed Bear Strong, a documentary about his mental health journey.
Chris is now bringing his message to Dublin, where he will share an in-depth look at his struggles with depression and how he battled through the dark times into the light to become the man he is today.
The evening is set to be an inspiring look into how barriers caused by mental health can be overcome, sharing a message of hope for others.
Last year, Chris was featured on BBC Northern Ireland’s online series This Is Pride.
The mini-documentary series follows Chris and several other LGBT+ people as they prepare to take part in their first Pride parade in Belfast.
Speaking about coming out in a sport considered one of the most ‘masculine’ in the world, Chris said: “I’m the first openly gay strongman to come out in the UK and Ireland, possibly even Europe.”
Chris said he was nervous coming out to some of the people he’s surrounded by in his sporting career, including his coach and best friend.
“It was important for me that he was okay with it, and he accepted it. I was just as nervous about telling him about it as I was about my dad,” he said. He described coming out to him as a “massive weight off my back”.
The Bear Strong Mental Health evening with Chris McNaghten takes place this evening, Friday, February 7 at 6 pm in Outhouse. For tickets, see Eventbrite.
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