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Mental Health, Mental Distress and Mental Illness


Mental Wellness, Illness and Distress; Determinants and Impact

The experience of mental wellness, illness and distress is unique for each individual as are the factors that influence both wellness and distress. This mental health sub-theme focuses on understanding what promotes mental wellbeing but also includes an exploration of the diverse experiences of mental illness and distress. While this is a broad and inclusive sub-theme, there is a particular focus and developing expertise in a number of areas including suicide and self-harm, the relationship between physical and mental health, society and mental health, maternal mental health and forensic mental health. Within these areas there is a focus on those factors that influence mental health and distress in addition to identifying the impact that living with mental illness and distress has on the person and their family.

Current projects

  • An exploration of the experiences, concerns and needs of transgender identified children and young people. PI: Prof Agnes Higgins, Suzanne Walsh, Prof Louise Doyle Prof Brian KeoghProf Imelda CoyneProf Eddie McCann.
  • The establishment of a statutory report on the use of mental hospitals in Ireland. PI Prof Damien Brennan
  • Cognitive dissonance and fMRI. PI: Prof Jan De Vries
  • Bi Lives: An exploration of the lives and mental health needs of bisexual people living in the Republic of Ireland. PI: Prof Agnes Higgins, Prof Jean MorrisseyProf Louise DoyleThelma Begley and Prof Brian Keogh
  • The experiences and support needs of people with intellectual disabilities who identify as LGBT. Prof Eddie McCann and Prof Michael Brown.
  • A comprehensive review of the literature on mental illness among homeless adults.  Homeless Mental Health Action Group. Dublin Simon Community, Prof Michael Brennan (TCD), Derek Parker (Merchants Quay Ireland), Fiona O'Reilly (External Consultant), Joanne Fenton (HSE), Kate Mitchell

Current research students

  • Mark Byrne, The enigma of Depression: A novel approach using cognitive dissonance theory. Principal Supervisor: Prof Jan de Vries
  • Hugh Fulham-McQuillan, Measuring and modelling the association between the mental health of community dwelling older adults and levels of alcohol use: a mixed methods study. Supervisors: Prof Gabrielle McKee and Prof Louise Doyle
  • Louise Rafferty, Perinatal Mental Health and Maternal Morbidity. Supervisors: Prof Agnes HigginsProf Deirdre Daly and Prof Cecily Begley

Completed projects

  • LGBT Ireland Mental Health Morbidities among LGBT people in Ireland. Prof Agnes Higgins, Prof Louise Doyle.
  • Public attitudes towards LGBT people in Ireland. Prof Agnes Higgins and Prof Louise Doyle.
  • Longitudinal study of Irish prisoners with mental health problems. PI: Prof Damien Brennan
  • A Mixed Methods Study of Adolescent Self-Harm and Help-Seeking for Serious Emotional/Psychological Problems. Prof Louise Doyle 
  • A critical consideration of the changing social processes of construction, categorisation and treatment of “lunacy”, “madness” and “mental illness” in Ireland between 1750-200. PI: Prof Damien Brennan
  • A visual history of the “The Architecture of Confinement in Ireland”. PI: Prof Damien Brennan
  • A Consideration of the Mental Health Promotion Policies and Programs in the Eastern Health Board Region, in the Context of a Developed Theory of Mental Health Promotion. PI: Prof Damien Brennan

Completed research students

  • Jane Clare, Mental health and social inclusion in the workplace. Principal Supervisor: Prof Damian Brennan
  • Rebecca Murphy, An exploration of African forced migrants' experiences of attending mental health care in Ireland. Supervisors: Prof Agnes Higgins and Prof Brian Keogh
  • Michael Brennan, Pathways to Care of People with Mental Health Problems within the Irish Criminal Justice System. Principal Supervisor: Prof Damian Brennan
  • Teresa Tuohy, The experiences of mothering in women with enduring mental health problems: A feminist perspective. Principal Supervisor: Prof Agnes Higgins 
  • Connor Kennedy, 'The impact of public perceptions upon the social support for persons with depression in the community'. Principal Supervisor: Prof Edward McCann