MENTAL HEALTH

Erasing stigma, raising awareness: Sickboy and Dub Kartel team up

Reggae dance band, podcast support Mental Health Nova Scotia

From left, Saunders, MacGillivray, and Stever interview MacDonald (far right) on live podcast.
From left, Saunders, MacGillivray and Stever interview MacDonald on Wednesday’s live podcast.   Jeana Mustain

A Halifax based podcast, Sickboy, teamed up Wednesday night with local reggae band Dub Kartel to raise awareness and money for the Nova Scotia Mental Health Foundation.

Sickboy recorded a live podcast and interviewed Craig MacDonald, who suffers from Craig Mac Disease, which affects his skeletal muscles. The disease is so rare that he’s the only known person to suffer from it, so doctors named it after him.

“I want to raise hope,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald’s symptoms began when he was 17. The disease puts him in the hospital with severe muscle pain about twice a year, for anywhere between 10 to 50 days, and daily inhibits his muscle function.

Here, MacDonald talks about dating with a disease:

Local businesses put together items for a silent auction at the event, while Dub Kartel played songs from its new album. All proceeds went to the foundation.

Sickboy podcast is hosted by Brian Stever, Jeremie Saunders and Taylor MacGillivray. The podcast started as a way for three best friends to laugh about Saunders’ cystic fibrosis, a fatal genetic disease with no cure.

Then the emails started coming in. The three were unwittingly changing lives.

On Wednesday every seat, and most of the standing room in the Seahorse Tavern, was full. Almost 100 people came out to show their support.

Each week, Sickboy interviews someone with a disease on the podcast. They laugh, tell stories and talk about the challenges disease brings people – but most importantly, they talk.

“We’re trying to bridge the gap, take away the awkwardness, the stigma around talking about illness,” says Stever.

More than a podcast

 “We’re trying to create a community,” Saunders says after the podcast. He says Halifax is a tight knit community, but not closed off, so it’s the perfect drawing board for this project.

Stever says it’s not for people who are ill, and it’s not for people who are not ill – it’s for everyone.

“You can’t just have the discussion with one group of people and hope that it will spill over to the other, you really need to get a hold both of those groups and convey your message.”

Sickboy has seen the impact online and at events like the one on Wednesday, and want to take it further.

They want to expand its reach, says MacGillivray. If they can do this in Halifax, Stever adds, why can’t they do it in Toronto or Vancouver?

You can listen to Sickboy podcasts online.