UCC lecturers get exceptional citizen award

TWO lecturers at UCC have been awarded an exceptional citizen award for their work in highlighting issues around mental health and the establishment of Critical Voices Network Ireland.

Harry Gijbels, attached to the Catherine McAuley School of Nursing and Midwifery, and Lydia Sapouna, from the School of Applied Social Studies, were given the award for their campaigning work and the establishment of the grassroots movement which puts patients and practitioners on a even footing.

The judging panel felt that the CVNI offers an “exceptional service” to the citizens of the wider community and contributes to enhancing the quality of life of many people who have traditionally been silenced.

“Such achievements are very admirable and worthy of an Exceptional Citizen Award,” they said.

Mr Gijbels and Ms Sapouna last year held a successful conference at UCC challenging the mental health system and calling for a new way forward.

The conference saw the launch of the CVNI, a network of people interested in considering and developing responses to human distress which are creative, enabling, respectful and grounded in human rights.

Next month, on November 16 and 17, the second CVNI conference will be held, and will address the use of medication as the dominant response to distress in mental health care. It will also look at medication withdrawal concerns, strategies and solutions.

This free, two-day conference provides people from diverse backgrounds — self-experience, survivors, professionals, academics, carers — to present, discuss and debate critical and creative perspectives on and beyond the dominant bio-medical approach. The conference will include an open forum to discuss the on-going work of the CVNI.

Keynote speakers are Peter Lehmann, author of Coming off Psychiatric Drugs and Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry, Dr Terry Lynch, medical doctor and psychotherapist, author of Beyond Prozac, Dr Sami Timimi, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, founder of the International Critical Psychiatry Network and of the ‘No More Psychiatric Labels’ Campaign.

* To register for the event email h.gijbels@ucc.ie

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