Coalition Conversations 2022

Mental Health Reform’s (MHR) final event of the year, ‘Coalition Conversations’ took place in the Wood Quay Venue, Dublin on the 8th December, from 9:00 – 13:00.

The aim of ‘Coalition Conversations’ is to encourage conversations with leaders, researchers, service providers and advocates from across the mental health landscape. Through live panel discussions, the conference presented a wealth of diverse perspectives and ideas to facilitate knowledge-sharing and learning.

Speakers examined key themes including housing and mental health, culturally sensitive mental health supports, and youth mental health, exploring how new approaches and reforms could shape the future of Ireland’s mental health system.

‘Coalition Conversations’ is open to MHR’s member organisations, stakeholders and people with lived experience of mental health difficulties, their family members, friends and carers.


Event MC: Ber Grogan, Policy & Research Manager, MHR

09:00 – 09:30 Registration / Arrival

09:30 – 09:45 Welcome

  • Róisín Clarke, Interim CEO, MHR

09:45 – 10.45 Session 1

Housing and Mental Health – The Case for Change

The new Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022-2027 places a greater emphasis on independent living and community inclusion in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Tenancy support has been identified as a key factor in helping people with mental health difficulties to live independently. However, despite growing demand, government funding for tenancy support services has not increased in over seven years. Furthermore, the housing crisis in Ireland is having a profound impact on the mental health of students and young people who face an increased risk of homelessness. This panel discussion will explore the future of supported housing and the housing reforms needed to improve mental health outcomes across society.

Moderator: Rory Hearne, Assistant Professor in Social Policy at Department of Applied Social Studies, Maynooth University

  • Sarah Hughes, Mental Health Programme Manager, Union of Students in Ireland
  • Martina Smith, CEO, HAIL
  • Dr Suzanne Denieffe, Head of the School of Humanities, Waterford Institute of Technology
  • Aodhan O’Heineaháin, HAIL Tenant

10.45 – 11.00 Break

11.00 – 12.00 Session 2

Protecting the Mental Health of Future Generations

The mental health of young people has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Charities including Jigsaw, ISPCC and SpunOut have reported an increase in the number of young people accessing their services. Ireland’s national mental health policy Sharing the Vision recognises that mental health difficulties can begin early in life, but the severity of impact can be reduced through actions that foster mental wellbeing in schools and communities. This panel discussion will explore how new approaches to education and early intervention can support young people and promote positive mental health for future generations.

Moderator: Berni Smyth, CEO, KDYS

  • Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children
  • John Church, CEO, ISPCC
  • Bernie Keogh, Managing Director, A Lust for Life
  • Niamh Fennell, Youth Voice and Engagement Officer, Jigsaw

12.00 – 12.55 Session 3

Responsive Mental Health Services in an Era of Global Displacement

The crisis in Ukraine, and the ongoing global displacement of people has led to increasing numbers of people seeking refuge and international protection in Ireland. Research tells us migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health challenges than the general population. It is critical that mental health services have the resources, information and training to competently support refugees in a way that is culturally appropriate. This panel discussion will examine how Government and the public and voluntary and community sectors can work together to enhance the accessibility and quality of services for migrants and refugees.

Moderator: Róisín Clarke, Interim CEO, MHR

  • John Lannon, CEO, Doras
  • Dr Jennifer Hayes, Principal Psychology Manager for Social Inclusion, HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare
  • Emilia Marchelewska, Health Advocacy Officer, Cairde
  • Justyna Maslanka, Mental Health Advocate

12.55 – 13.00 Event Close

● Róisín Clarke, Interim CEO, MHR

13.00 – 13.30 Refreshments Served


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