“I am proud of myself”: Greg O’Shea chats mental health, keeping his feet on the ground and why women inspire him

Greg O’Shea Pic: Evan Doherty for VIP Magazine

Greg O’Shea has an infectious personality. When you chat to him you can’t help but smile. When he appears on the Zoom call from his home in Dublin that he shares with his partner, Jeanni Mudler, he’s relaxed and bubbly.

We chat about his NFL [American football] cap, he’s a Minnesota Vikings fan after watching a game. “It’s my favourite hat,” he tells us.

Soon chat turns to Taylor Swift, her boyfriend is a NFL player. “Are you a Swiftie?” he asks, before wondering how the American songstress has captured the world by storm. He adds: “She has so much influence. She should do something to help save the world with all the power she has!”

Greg is someone who feels passionately about using your platform for good, something he does often. We chat about mental health, life on telly and how his learned to be proud of himself…

Pic: Leon Farrell/ Photocall Ireland

Hey Greg, how are you? This year you’re working as a Movember and FREENOW ambassador. Talk to us about that.

I have done Movember a couple of times but I have never been an ambassador. I was thinking about doing it again this year but this really gave me the push that I needed. The big reason I was willing to jump at the opportunity is that, especially with my friends, we’re young males, we don’t speak about our issues. It’s so apparent as we get older and I’m living with my girlfriend now, I can see how good she is at speaking about her feelings. I’m very close to my mam and my sisters, they’re so good at communicating with each other. Lads, we don’t talk to each other at all. Only recently I had a little bit of a health scare with my prostate and I had to get tested, which is something that isn’t usually done at my age at 28. But unfortunately, it isn’t usually done by men at any stage of their lives.

Men really aren’t great at getting themselves checked out. When it comes to mental or physical health…

The stat that really scares me is that 70 per cent of suicides are done by men. It is such a big number. Men put each other under so much pressure. We’re all competing and we’re not there for each other. If I can even help a little bit in my position, I have a bit of a following, I touch on different groups with the rugby and the entertainment, and I’ll try my best to help. I don’t know if I can, but I’ll try my best.

You’ve been very open about your own mental health, and we don’t have to get too deep into that. But what advice would you give to young men who are struggling?

If you asked me, even four years ago, before I was cast into the entertainment world, I’m kind of embarrassed to say this now, but I was of the opinion that if you’re complaining about your mental health I thought you were a bit soft. Just man up. That was my opinion. Unfortunately then I went through what I went through and I realised that it was a big problem. It’s like an injury, say for instance I get a physical injury where I tear my hamstring or I break my arm, you can see it and people have sympathy for you. But with a mental health injury, no one sees it. That’s the issue with men because they can’t see it, so you should just get over it. Then I went through what I went through and I, thankfully, came out the other side. I have so much more empathy, I realised that my initial opinion was so wrong. It’s just asking the questions. So when it comes to lads, what I would recommend is, because we’re all macho, we’re all manly, we don’t want to show our feelings, a good thing is to organise a meet-up for the lads. This morning, we went for a run, we went for a swim, we went for a sauna and we went for a coffee. It’s a great way to start the day and you can start asking questions, but you have to follow up with other questions because you’ll eventually break through to them. You have to let people know that you’re thinking about them and you’re there for them. We all have to be there for each other. Women are so good at talking about feelings straight away. Whereas lads, you have to get in around that wall first.

Greg O’Shea Pic: Evan Doherty for VIP Magazine

On that note, if you could, what would you tell teenage Greg?

I would tell him, initially, it’s all going to be okay. But secondly, don’t be so naive! Be aware of the possibility of your mental health deteriorating. I never considered that my mental health would be an issue. It wasn’t even in my mind, it was always training, physical health, physio. A big thing to teenage Greg would be taking care of your mental health just like your physical health even if you’re in a good place! And appreciate that good place but you’re not always going to be there. There has to be bad days for there to be good days.

Okay, let’s move to something a tad lighter. You’re coming up on a year in The Six O’Clock Show, congratulations. How has life been for the past year?

Oh my God, it’s been absolutely amazing. But I was thrown into the deep end! I have been involved with The Six O’Clock Show for three years sporadically for two years and now on it as a full-time presenter for a year. It’s been a baptism of fire but thankfully I figured out how to swim. I’ve learned so much! I’m in there Monday to Friday and I’m the only presenter in Virgin Media doing five days a week! I’ve had to learn quick but I think I’ve really come on in the last year. I’m excited to go in and learn new things, ask my own questions and put my own stamp on it. I’ve learned so much from everyone I’ve worked with, Karen [Koster] comes from the entertainment world and Gráinne [Seoige] come from a news background. Fortunately, I’m only at the start of my career so I’m like a sponge absorbing it all! I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Obviously, The Six O’Clock Show is amazing, but would you like to do more telly outside of it?

That’s a great question, a couple of my mates have asked me that. The thing with The Six O’Clock Show is that it’s a very comfortable gig, I live about half an hour away from the studio, it’s a great job to have, I’m meeting amazing people, I interviewed Mary Robinson, when am I ever going to speak to her? We had Gok Wan in the other day! But the thing is, I know I have other passions, I come from a wellness and fitness world, I get really excited when it comes to that. The Rugby World Cup was just on and I was so excited about that. I know I want to do something with that side of things. I want to promote Rugby Sevens which is an Olympic sport but people don’t know about it. I feel like it’s my duty to teach people about it. I don’t know how I can get back into that world but it’s definitely something I want to do. We’ll see. But at the minute I’m very grateful to be where I am!

Pic: Leon Farrell/ Photocall Ireland

You started out your TV career in Love Island back in 2019. Now when the name Greg O’Shea is said most of us don’t think of the reality show. You’ve achieved so much, are you proud of yourself?

Am I proud? I am proud of myself…I’ve never been asked that question before. I am proud that I went into that crazy world of Love Island and came out the same person. I have the same group of friends, I still live in the same house, I’m even closer to my family now than I was before. I could have easily went down the normal Love Island route, I could have moved to London, I could have been the stereotypical Love Island person. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But I knew that’s not what I wanted. I managed to get to the Olympics after Love Island. I managed to do my FE-1s [law exams] after Love Island. I managed to become an Iron Man after Love Island. I am very proud of it. I am also happy that the show gave me a wider view of the world. I got to meet a lot more people outside of the rugby dressing room, I am more aware of how other people feel things. I spend a lot more time with people who wouldn’t be in my usual circle. That is a big thing that it has given me a wider view of the world. I don’t know where my path is going right now, but I know it’s all worth it. The negative side was that I was naive to the mental health aspect of it. That really rocked me. I could have went down a really hard road. But I pulled back and I sorted it out.

You’ve really achieved an immense amount. But you’ve previously said you don’t believe in manifestation. Do you goalset or what is your process?

[Laughs] I looked into it a bit more. There are too many successful people talking about manifestation. So I decided to give it a go because if nothing happens I’m still in the same position, I have nothing to lose. After more research, I figured out for myself that manifesting is like goal setting, it’s just a different name for it. When I’m trying to achieve something I’m always talking about my goals and achieving my goals. There’s definitely something there and I have started doing it more. Even when I went through that mental health issue, I sat down and wrote down goals on a piece of paper. I said I wanted to become a presenter, I wanted to do something with fitness and I wanted to get closer to my family. If you fast forward a year and a half later, I have my own fitness app called Better, I’m a presenter on The Six O’Clock Show and I’ve never been so close to my family. So I must have manifested it! And we can use that word. I’m an advocate for it now! [Laughs]

Greg O’Shea has teamed up with FREENOW as part of its newly announced yearlong partnership with leading men’s health charity, Movember. This partnership aims to help spark conversations around key topics including mental health and suicide prevention, testicular cancer and prostate cancer. Throughout the month of November and right through to the end of February 2024, FREENOW passengers will be able to show their support for Movember through FREENOW’s Round Up to Donate in-app feature, which allows passengers to round up their trip to the nearest euro with the difference being donated directly to Movember.

You can find out more here.

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