Unleashing the Voice Within: Challenging Current Responses of Mental Health Systems to young people in distress  

Find below a link to the seminar, organised by the CVNI in partnership with ChangeWithEmma, Mad In Ireland and the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (SSI21), held on 3 April 2023 from 6.30 – 8.30 pm in the Aula Maxima, University College Cork.

This seminar aimed to provide a critical discussion on different ways of supporting young people experiencing distress, beyond the current services available. The discussion centred on the power of young people’s voice and the possibilities for alternative sources of help so that young people can thrive instead of feeling hopeless, trapped in the cycle of the current system.

Link to Seminar

Emma O’Sullivan, one of the presenters at the seminar, and mental health campaigner, says: ‘When we are born the first thing our parents hear is a cry, a scream to be heard and held. As we grow, we are conditioned to lose our need to scream and cry. We become complacent. This seminar aims to support people regaining that inherent and powerful voice they are born with. I lost my voice through my experiences of being no more than a number in the public mental health system. I spent more than ten years of my life in a vessel of hurt. I fought to find my voice again and I want to use it to help others find theirs. You may have seen and read the damning reports on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). How many more young people are going to be damaged by statutory mental health services? How many reports are we going to read and do nothing about?’




Critical Voices Network Ireland https://cvni.ie/

The CVNI is a coalition of people with self-experience, survivors, supporters, practitioners, academics, and campaigning and advocacy groups, all interested in a mental health system based on choice, respect, dignity, non-coercion and principles of social justice. The CVNI advocates for a shift away from the current narrow focus on individual pathology in mental health practices, towards approaches which acknowledge and validate the complexity of human distress.

Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21) https://www.ucc.ie/en/iss21/

ISS21 is an interdisciplinary research institute for the social sciences in UCC, that seeks to build, sustain and enhance research on social, economic and cultural issues. ISS21’s Disability and Mental Health Cluster brings together UCC researchers, academics and practitioners, who set out to explore and challenge understandings and meanings of disability and mental health; to explore the potential of different methodologies/ethical issues in research with people with disabilities and emotional distress; to forge links with advocacy, community activist groups in our research/activities; and to create a space for sharing research with colleagues across different disciplines.


Asylum, The Radical Mental Health Magazine https://asylummagazine.org/


Seminar inquiries to Lydia Sapouna at l.sapouna@ucc.ie or Harry Gijbels at h.gijbels@ucc.ie

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