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Mental Health, Mental Distress and Mental Illness

Developing and evaluating recovery orientated and rights based strategies for service users and families

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 supporters in different health contexts.

Current projects

  • A prospective evaluation of the operation and effects of the Mental Health Act 2001 from the viewpoints of service users and health professionals. PI: Prof Colm McDonald (UCG); Co applicant Prof Agnes Higgins TCD. 
  • A pre/post evaluation of a one day wellness programme by Suicide or Survive, on participants’ knowledge of and attitudes towards mental health issues and self-reported mental wellbeing. PI: Assistant Prof Louise Doyle
  • A systematic review of resilience in older LGBT people. Prof Agnes Higgins, Assistant Prof Brian Keogh, Oscar James and Trish Hafford.
  • Investigation of the benefits of participating in the Advancing Recovery in Ireland initiative. PIs: Prof Agnes Higgins and Assistant Prof Louise Doyle
  • Young adults in the criminal justice system. Assistant Prof Michael BrennanProf Catherine Comiskey, Harry Kennedy, Damian Smith, Stephen Monks and Luke Quirke.
  • An evaluation of POWER (promoting our own wellness and promoting recovery): A peer prisoner mentoring programme. PI: Assistant Prof Louise Doyle, Assistant Prof Brian KeoghProf Agnes Higgins, Assistant Prof Michael Brennan and Assistant Prof Jean Morrissey.
  • EOLAS: The development and evaluation of a peer and clinician-led educational programme for people enduring mental health problems and their families. PI: Prof Agnes Higgins, Pat Gibbons and Assistant Prof Mark Monahan.
  • Service User experiences of recovery and coming off psychotropic medication. PI: Prof Agnes Higgins and Mike Watts.
  • Mapping the role of Peer-Led Community Services in promotion of recovery. PI: Prof Agnes Higgins and Rebecca Murphy.
  • Evaluation of the Genio Dementia Programme (2014). Associate Prof Anne-Marie Brady, Associate Prof Geralyn Hynes, Assistant Prof Brian Keogh, Assistant Prof Louise Daly, Brendan Kennelly, Aurelia Ciblis and Mairead Bracken.
  • A systematic review and metasynthesis of the meaning of and influences on recovery in 'psychotic. Donal O'Keeffe, Prof Agnes Higgins and Assistant Prof Brian Keogh.
  • Improving the sexual health of people with severe mental health. Assistant Prof Edward McCann and Prof Liz Hughes et al.

Current research students

  • Margaret Bourke, A narrative study of the experiences and needs of parents whose adolescent is engaging in repeated self-harm. Supervisors: Prof Agnes Higgins and Assistant Prof Louise Doyle
  • Patricia O Connor, Exploration of the experience of living with a person with an eating disorder: A partner’s perspective. Supervisors: Prof Agnes Higgins and Assistant Prof Louise Doyle
  • Catherine Kinch, ‘Service users’ and Practitioners’ conceptualisation and understanding of Risk & Safety in recovery oriented practice”. Supervisors Assistant Prof Jean Morrissey and Professor Agnes Higgins
  • Danika Sharek, The design, delivery and evaluation of an education programme for families of people who are transgender. Supervisors: Assistant Prof Eddie McCann and Associate Prof Sylvia Huntley-Moore 
  • Elaine Collins, An action research approach towards developing a recovery culture within a mental health organisation. Supervisors: Prof Agnes Higgins and Associate Prof Geralyn Hynes
  • Donal O'Keeffe, Meaning in life in first episode psychosis: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. Supervisors: Prof Agnes Higgins and Assistant Prof Brian Keogh

Completed projects

  • Mental health Service Users experiences of stigma and diagnostic overshadowing when seeking help for physical health problems. PI Assistant Prof Michael Nash
  • Evaluation of Four Family-Focus Initiatives (GENIO). PI: Prof Agnes Higgins
    An evaluation of the Mental Health Recovery and WRAP Education
  • programme. PI: Prof Agnes Higgins 
  • Mental Health Service Users participation in the electoral process. PI: Assistant Prof Michael Nash

Completed research students

  • Brian Keogh, 'Managing Preconceived Expectations' Mental Health Service Users Experiences of Going Home from Hospital: A Grounded Theory Study. Principal Supervisor: Prof Agnes Higgins 
  • Mike Watts, Recovery through peer support: A re-enchantment with life. Supervisors: Prof Agnes Higgins and Prof Brian Keogh