What I Took Away from the Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit 2016

Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit 2016 at the Aviva Stadium in partnership with Laya Healthcare

Yesterday I attended the Mental Health and Well Being Summit in Dublin. The summit was open to the public, professionals and businesses. This blend of different sectors is what really set this event apart from others. The summit indented “to take mental health and wellbeing to the next level; bringing the information directly to the people who need it. People are talking about this subject matter now but need access to practical information, support services and products that help with coping and living with mental issues.” The speakers were a mix of mental health professionals, doctors, nutritionists and services users sharing their personal experiences. This diverse group of speakers really worked in covering all bases. Workshops including everything form mindfulness and meditation to building resilience through sport. There was also a workshop for family and friends living with someone suffering from mental illness. We attended entrepreneur and founder of Cycle Against Suicide Jim Breen’s workshop which focused on communities breaking the cycle of suicide. Jim is lovely and it’s clear he is passionate and geniune when it comes to the cause. Jim’s workshop was engaging, fun and really made us think of ways to apply this to our own communities. There was also this moment below. What a man!



Exhibition stands included Teen Line, My Mind, Grow, Chill Out Ireland and Mental Health Ireland to name a few. I picked up tons of information leaflets and this amazing book from the Dublin Simon Community who provide homeless support services and emergency accommodation. The book showcases art, photography and creative writing by their service users. The sheer talent and creativity is unreal I recommend everyone to get your hands on one. You can donate to the Simon Community here

I brought Ishy along to this event for a bit of an unconventional date day, we’re getting married in six months so it was nice to make a change from wedding fayres. We met up with Kelley Lee who is my fellow See Change Ambassador, good friend and all round machine who puts Trojan work into hosting mental health events and providing people with contacts for services. She just put together a leaflet with information on Support Services for South Tipperary. Here’s the leaflet having its moment to shine with Jim Breen and ourselves

The highlight of the event were the speaker sessions. Brent Pope gave a moving account of his own mental health experience. Dr Eddie Murphy covered understanding the teenage brain. I could go on and on covering everyone’s insightful and fascinating talks but we would be here forever. Here are a few moments that I though stood out

Gerry Hussey: “Love the person you are right now, don’t wait to love the person you become. A step with self-love is powerful. A step that comes from hate is a step towards destruction”

Doug Leddin on that incredible video which started countless conversations around mental health: “I didn’t do it to be brave, I did it because I needed to. It didn’t cure me but it changed my life. I can talk to any of my friends now and there’s no longer a barrier.” Can totally relate to that on a personal level, I don’t think any mental health advocate sets out with sharing their story expecting to be called brave, sometimes we do it just as much for ourselves. It comes down to frustration of all the secrecy and a need to share that part of you in a way that’s like ripping off a plaster. Once it’s out there that barrier is broken down which makes things that teeny bit easier.

The lovely Jade Hayes brought our attention to Trichotillomania which I’ve never actually heard of. It was interesting to me to read more about it later even if my attempts to spell it took me longer than I care to admit. Orla Connolly (who spoke SO WELL) mentioned how opening up about her own mental health lead to her family being more open around the subject.

One thing that I heard said a few times throughout the day was how the conversation around mental health is moving on, the topic is becoming less stigmatised which is great. BUT as a person with Schizophrenia I feel we are the last taboo when it comes to how people generally view mental health. Hopefully this will start to change, it badly needs to get a look in. Schizophrenia and psychosis get next to no coverage in general. I’m still plugging away at it but sometimes I feel like a bit of an outcast and a lone ranger when it comes down to it. I know a lot of people who have Schizophrenia (it really isn’t as rare as you might think) but fear of the unfair and untrue image the illness has is what stops them speaking publicly about it. I don’t know if I’m a bit reckless or just plain stupid but you can read about my long and ongoing journey with Schizophrenia here

As I said my soon to be husband (eek) came with me. I never speak about this in the media for his privacy but he actually has anxiety and regular panic attacks. So he said he took a lot of positive and useful things from Bressie’s speech. Who was fantastic as usual, he has this way of getting his message across without claiming to know it all, his talks are very human and personal. He throws in a bit humour so it feels like he’s just down the pub casually telling you about his experience with anxiety, what works for him and “what you won’t read in a psychology book.” Bressie shares his story and gives advice without making it seem like he’s talking at you or giving everyone a lecture. He stresses the important message of finding out what works for you and consistency. It was actually my first time hearing him speak in person. I was highly impressed and he deserves all the good things he has going for him. He’s also from Westmeath same as myself. Everyone thinks I’m from Waterford but I just live here. I lost my strong Athlone accent years ago though. Probably a blessing considering all the public speaking at least people can understand me now.

Side note that Ishy doesn’t mind me mentioning that little nugget of information here. Which is great so I don’t have to write articles like this one for the Journal where I pretend I’m the only one in the relationship with mental health problems. That was a bit awkward.

Oh and here’s me and Kelley having a moment for the See Change’s Green Ribbon with Bressie.

I’m going to wrap this up here. I am so sorry if I got anyone’s name or anyone mixed up which is likely knowing me. Well done to everyone involved in this event, the exhibitors, and speakers also a special mention to the amazing Sallyanne Clarke.

I am so grateful we have such incredible mental health ambassadors in this county to look up to and be inspiried by

Until next time

Keep Shining On,






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