Mental health in focus at Magee campus conference

Professor Gerry Leavey. (1910FP01)
Professor Gerry Leavey. (1910FP01)

Alcohol dependence and suicide are just two of the topics that will be discussed at a major conference on mental health next week at the University of Ulster’s Magee campus.

Health Service practitioners and academics will gather at Magee on October 23 and 24 for the two day conference whose theme will be ‘Growing Strong In the Face of Life’s Storms’.

Delegates will also discuss the emotional health and well-being of children, person centred practice for older people, early interventions and trauma.

Conference manager, Marie O’Neill, who lectures in mental health nursing at Magee, said: “There have been many changes in recent years in the work of mental health practitioners and care providers.

“It is important that we consider our skills and services in the light of these changes and how they will impact on the future delivery of quality mental health care.

“The conference next week is an ideal forum for people working within the mental health field and from the wider network of related disciplines in our schools and communities, both statutory and voluntary organisations, to share their experiences and ideas.”

Mrs O’Neill added: “In line with the World Health Organisation’s International ‘World Health Day’, we hope to embrace the theme of ‘positive mental health and well-being’, which is paramount to the life of a person with mental ill health and that of their carers.

”Both statutory and voluntary services actively endorse holistic health and well-being and the conference will give them the platform to share their experiences.

One of the highlights of the conference will be the Dr Dawson Memorial Lecture which this year will be delivered by Professor Gerry Leavey, the recently appointed Professor of Mental Health and Wellbeing and Director of the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing at the University of Ulster.

Professor Leavey’s research focuses on access to and the acceptability of mental health services and his work has been published in several leading journals, including the British Medical Journal, the British Journal of Psychiatry, Transcultural Psychiatry, the Journal of Mental Health, and Social Science and Medicine.

The conference will also feature a presentation from Professor Ruth Northway from the University of Glamorgan on ‘Challenging the view that vulnerability is inevitable’.

Barry McGale, a Suicide Liaison Officer at the Western Health and Social Care Trust, who has recently returned from Australia will highlight in his presentation an examination of suicide postvention practices in Australia for families, communities and professionals.

Catherine Gamble, a Nurse Consultant in South West London and St George’s Health and Social Care Trust will discuss working with families who have severe and enduring mental health difficulties.

Gillian McMullan, Project Manager at the Bamford Monitoring Group will also report on the open dialogue Mental Health Conference held in August 2011.
There will be a screening of ‘Wally the Rapper’. Wally - the stage name of a young Irish rapper – documents a year and a half of his life during which time he went from the verge of suicide to fatherhood.

The film which was premiered in Wally’s hometown of Portlaoise in Ireland earlier this year had has been screened on RTE, provides a vivid glimpse into a world that will be all too familiar to many young people.

Growing Strong in the Face of Life’s Storms will take place at the University of Ulster, Magee campus from Wednesday 24 until Thursday 25. For further information contact Marie O’Neill at: m.oneill@ulster.ac.uk.