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Mental Health, Mental Distress and Mental Illness


Mental Health, Mental Distress and Mental Illness Sub-Theme

The policy document' A Vision for Change' (Department of Health and Children, 2006), the blueprint for Irish mental health service development, recommends that services adopt a recovery perspective. In addition, a recovery-focused approach to the treatment and care of service users is one of the standards identified in the Quality Framework for Mental Health Services in Ireland (Mental Health Commission, 2007).This theme focuses on developing an evidence base on service users, family and carer experience of recovery journeys and on developing and evaluating recovery oriented and rights- based strategies for service users, families and practitioners in different health contexts.

Leader: Prof Agnes Higgins

List of active members: Prof Agnes Higgins, Prof Louise Doyle, Prof Brian Keogh, Prof Mark Monahan, Prof Jean Morrissey, Prof Caitriona Nic Philibin, Prof Michael Brennan, Prof Damian Brennan, Padraig McBennett, Prof Aileen Lynch, Prof Michael Nash. Prof Eddie McCann, Madeline Gleeson, Prof Jan de Vries, Dr John Dinsmore, Prof Rita Corry, Prof Kathleen Neenan

Name of current and past visiting professors: Prof Hugh McKenna (present) and Prof Patrick Callaghan (past)

Cross College and other collaborations

International: ENTER group (European Network for Training, Evaluation and Recovery in Mental Health). E-Menthe group (a European co-operation project to enhance Master's level education in mental health practice with eLearning materials)

National: Shine, GROW, See Change, Mental Health Commission, St Patrick’s University Hospital, Health Service Executive, GENIO, University College Galway, Cross College:, Department of Psychology, TCD

Current projects

Funded Research

Non-Funded Research

  • A systematic review and meta-analysis of meaning of life in recovery from psychosis. Donal O'Keeffe, Prof Agnes Higgins and Dr Brian Keogh.
  • Implementing Family Work Skills in Practice. Dr Eddie McCann and Freda Neill.
  • Madness in the movies: Using cinema to explore mental health issues for practice. Dr Eddie McCann and Sylvia Huntley-Moore.
  • The experiences and support needs of people with intellecual disabilities who identify as LGBT. Dr Eddie McCann and Prof Michael Brown.
  • Impact of an online eating disorders education strategy on CAMHS nurses' knowledge, skills and attitudes: A pre/post evaluation of a module of study. Dr Jean Morrisey, Dr Mark Monahan, Prof Agnes Higgins, Tony O'Connor, Dr Kielty Oberlin, Harriet Parsons and Dr Sinead O'Dea.
  • Homeless Mental Health Action Group. Dublin Simon Community, Michael Brennan (TCD), Derek Parker (Merchants Quay Ireland), Fiona O'Reilly (External Consultant), Joanne Fenton (HSE), Kate Mitchell (Mental Health Reform)

Current research students

Open opportunities for MSc/PhD projects

There are opportunities for PhD projects in the following topics:

1. Developing and evaluating recovery-orientated and rights-based strategies for service users, families and practicioners
  • Social exclusion, Incarceration and Reintegration within Civic Society. Prof Damien Brennan
  • Oral narratives of past Mental Hospital residents: A Historical Sociology. Prof Damien Brennan
  • The capacity for care provision within contemporary Home/Domestic spaces in Ireland. Prof Damien Brennan
  • Critical reflection and care erosion in hospitals. Prof Jan de Vries
  • Professional dissonance: discrepancies between nursing education and clinical practice. Prof Jan de Vries
2. Mental Wellness, Illness and Distress: Determinants and Impacts

Completed projects

Completed research students

  • Mark Monaghan (2013) The Meaning and Impact of Recovery, in a Mental Health Context, from the Perspectives of Service Users, Families and Mental Health Professionals. Prof Agnes Higgins and Jo Murphy Lawless
  • Brian Keogh (2010) An exploration of the strategies used by people who have been discharged from psychiatric hospitals to aid recovery and prevent re-admission.  Prof Agnes Higgins
  • Rebecca Murphy, An exploration of African forced migrants' experiences of attending mental health care in Ireland. Supervisors: Prof Agnes Higgins and Dr Brian Keogh
  • Jean Morrissey, Psychiatric nurses' responses to clients with suicidal behaviour: A grounded theory study. Principal Supervisor: Prof Agnes Higgins
  • Teresa Tuohy, The experiences of mothering in women with enduring mental health problems: A feminist perspective. Supervisors: Prof Agnes Higgins and Dr Jo Murphy-Lawless
  • Mike Watts, Recovery through peer support: A re-enchantment with life. Supervisors: Prof Agnes Higgins and Dr Brian Keogh
  • Jane Clare, Mental health and social inclusion in the workplace. Principal Supervisor: Dr Damien Brennan
  • Connor Kennedy, The impact of public perceptions upon the social support for persons with depression in the community. Principal Supervisor:Dr Eddie McCann