Metal for Life NI Board of Trustees

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Gillian Kansanaho

Founder and Chairperson of Metal for Life NI

My husband, Ahti, and I, lost our only child, Dani, to depression in October 2017. We vowed to honour him by reaching out to others affected by mental illnesses within the metal scene in Northern Ireland. We decided to set up a unique group to support the mental health of metalheads, run by metalheads.
I’m a scientist in a large diagnostic company. I also like singing, crafts and motorbiking around Europe with Ahti. I don’t have any qualifications in psychology or counselling, but I can offer an understanding ear and practical ideas for self-help, having fought my own depression and panic attacks for decades. I also have the determination and skills to ensure this group meets the highest possible standard, making it a safe place for anyone who needs it.
We all like a bit of metal in our lives. I love Finnish bands like Amorphis, Omnium Gatherum, Stam1na and Ensiferum, but Moonsorrow tops my list. I often listen to black, death and thrash and folk metal, and I support the local scene as much as I can!
I am forever indebted to the small team of volunteers who have developed Metal for Life and have supported Ahti and I through our loss.

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Gareth Ruddock

Trustee & Facilitator

Hi folks. My name is Gareth Ruddock and I'm very proud to be a part of this group. I'm very passionate about mental health and I hope I can add some life experience to the support this group will offer.
I have a degree in Psychology but also have 16 years’ experience as a manager in a large supermarket chain. This has allowed me to develop my listening and communication skills on a 121 basis and in large groups.
I'm an obsessed Iron Maiden fan but also love bands such as Clutch, Tool, FuManchu, Deftones, Soundgarden, High On Fire, Sleep, Kyuss and Opeth to name but a few! I also play bass in Skypilot.
Cheers.

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Chris Mulholland

Trustee & Facilitator

Hello! I'm Chris and I've been working with Metal for Life since 2018. I currently work as an Assistant Psychologist and have a BSc and MSc in Psychology. Through my work I would often help run peer support groups (along with groups for more specific mental illness and 1 to 1 therapeutic interventions) and would have some knowledge about mental illnesses people may experience and interventions that can help with these. I joined the group when Gillian asked for volunteers because I've seen how depression can affect people's lives, and I've lost a number of friends to it. I grew up with Dani and want to help and support others in the community dealing with mental illness, along with hopefully reducing the stigma that exists around speaking out.

Hobby-wise I enjoy reading, spending time with my 2 dogs & listening to music. In terms of metal I'm very into black, death & doom bands like Wolves in the Throne Room, Agalloch, Altar of Plagues, Paysage d'Hiver, Undergang & Bell Witch. I also love horror punk, with bands like the Misfits and Samhain probably being my favourite bands.

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Aaron Cullen

Trustee & Facilitator

I found Metal for Life in 2019 whilst at a very low point. I was sceptical of a support group based around heavy metal at first, but shared experiences and values gave me a community to call my own.

I became a volunteer in 2020 to fund-raise and promote the group that had given me so much. In 2021, I was honoured to become a group facilitator, then to be elected as a trustee. From my own experience and what I’ve learned by listening to the stories of our members, I hope to help others in the fight against misery and suicide.

I’m a software engineer with a love of video games, history and language. I’m a big fan of The Misfits, Rammstein, Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard and Type O Negative.