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Families Together Mental Health Conference goes online

Mental Health Conference large

The HSE’s Mental Health Engagement and Recovery Team partnered with Mental Health Ireland and community partners to host a successful online event to celebrate and promote family recovery on the UN’s International Day of Families, Friday 15th May. This conference was a co-produced pioneering event connecting families, people with lived experience of living with mental health challenges, professionals and community partners from across the country during a time of unprecedented interruption to our way of life.


It was originally planned as a face-to-face conference, but when Covid hit, it was developed as their first virtual conference for recovery. Speaking about this, Kerry Cuskelly, Principal Social Worker, North Dublin Mental Health Services said, “I am immensely proud of the collaboration, hard work and all round enthusiasm that everyone brought to this project. Everyone’s voices were heard, everyone shared the work and everyone really wanted this to work out. I am delighted to have been part of this and I have to say being involved in meaningful co-designed initiatives such as this is one of the best parts of my job”.

The event saw around 180 participants attend live chat and Q&A sessions, online family recovery training and education facilitated through recovery education services and colleges around the country. Noting the need for focus on family recovery, Gina Delaney, Development Officer with Mental Health Ireland said, “This conference was a great opportunity for Mental Health Ireland to promote the area of family recovery and the benefits to including the while family in conversation about recovery. It also allowed participants to share knowledge and personal experiences as well as find out more about family supports and resources, such as the Family Carer and Supporter Guide, HSE, with an aim to empower all members of the family to feel supported and consequently have better recovery outcomes”.

A National Family Recovery Advisory group, convened in 2018, supports the National Mental Health Engagement and Recovery team with the implementation of family recovery actions in the National Recovery Framework 2018-2020. There is broad representation on the group from the following areas; CHOs, non government organisations, Tusla, Barnados, Family Carers Ireland, Shine, lived experience and family recovery Subject Matter Experts and the Engagement and Recovery National team. Each year, the advisory group develops and actions a comprehensive work plan.

The Recovery Colleges from across the country took part by co-facilitating a variety of workshops on the day, and the Recovery College South East have compiled a beautiful and resource-rich guide to services and supports for family recovery. You can see resources and the Family Recovery Tree at:

This is one element of a broader work plan of the National Family Recovery Advisory Group (through the National Mental Health Recovery and Engagement Office) which Kerry co-chairs with Gina. Francis Walsh was also a member of the advisory group, from the National Engagement and Recovery Team, working tirelessly for recovery. The conference was dedicated to Francis as one of his many final achievements.

To find out more about family recovery, the national Family Recovery Advisory Group or Mental Health Engagement and Recovery please contact
Link to conference resources: