Event to focus on mental health issues to take place in Waterford

A varied range of speakers will draw on professional and personal experience when they take part in a weekend mental health conference next month.

The guests will address issues such as suicide, depression, self-harm, and substance abuse, from individual, family, peer group and survivor perspectives, as well as explaining how to recognise early health problems and how and where to seek help.

Entitled ‘Supports and Developments in Mental Health Care’, the conference will run for two days at the Park Hotel in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, on the weekend of February 19/20.

It is being organised by Waterford Fine Gael councillor Liam Brazil and supported by Waterford City and County Council.

Speakers on the opening night include Sr Gertrude Howling, the South East regional chairperson of mental health organisation GROW, Olympic boxing silver medallist Kenneth Egan along with family physician and founder of Waterford’s Health Park, Dr Mark Rowe.

Saturday’s programme includes director of Waterford and South East Samaritans, Ann Barron, former HSE health promotion officer and now group therapist, Beatrice Barry Murphy, Suicide or Survive CEO and No Panic Ireland coordinator, Caroline McGuigan, Cavan GAA inter-county player, Alan O’Mara, Pieta House chief operations officer Cindy O’Connor, and HSE South resource officer for suicide prevention Seán McCarthy.

The conference will also include Q&A sessions.

Cllr Brazil, 55, lost his brother James to suicide some 25 years ago, aged 35.

Fine Gael councillor Liam Brazil
Fine Gael councillor Liam Brazil

Recalling the social stigma attached to mental illness at the time, Cllr Brazil says his mother Nora’s, grief “was made worse because nobody would even mention James’s name afterwards. Thankfully that has very much changed in recent years.”

Prior to Nora dying some years ago, Liam promised he would promote mental health awareness.

The councillor organised a similar conference in 2012 and 2014 and is committed to holding future bi-annual events “to help spread the word that there is support and understanding available for anyone suffering with mental health problems, that they are not alone and that it is normal to seek help”.

He added: “I also I believe it is important that other people understand the issues surrounding mental health and hopefully these conferences help towards those goals,” he states.

Entry is free and details/brochure is available at www.waterfordcouncil.ie or 0761-102020 and from Cllr Brazil on 087-2119203 or cllrlbrazil@waterfordcouncil.ie.

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