Family Recovery

Conference 2020


Panelist Bios

Video Gallery




The HSE’s Mental Health Engagement and Recovery Team and its community partners hosted an online event on 15th May 2020 to celebrate and promote family recovery on the UN’s International Day of Families.

The event was live-streamed during the day from 10am – 4pm. Watch the conference by clicking the ‘Watch Conference’ button above.

Browse the resources below and be sure to join the conversation on twitter by following @recovery_ire and using #wearefamily.


Panelist Bios

We were delighted to host a live panel discussion on the day. Click the orange ‘Watch Conference’ button above to find out what the panelists said about family recovery. You can find out more about them in this section of the web-page.


Kerry Cuskelly is a Principal Social Worker in Adult Mental Health in North Dublin. She has substantial experience of working in partnership with individuals, families and communities in relation to mental health. Kerry is interested in the concept of peer support as means to support recovery and as such has completed formal research on the topic of peer support and families/supporters in mental health and family/supporter assessments in mental health. Kerry leads a social work team which has a strong history of developing and offering recovery-focused services to families/supporters in mental health services.

Derek Pepper is the Interim National Training, Awareness and Support Team Leader with Shine – Supporting People with Mental Ill Health. Derek is also the Regional Development Officer for the Northeast region with Shine and has been in this role since 2007. Shine, as a national organisation, provide an extensive array of supports to people with self-experience of a mental health difficulty and their family members, all across the country.

Patricia O’Dowd is a mother of four adult children. All of which have been diagnosed with various mental illnesses. As a young adult she cared for her brother who also suffered mental ill health. She has seen a big change in how things are done from that time to now.

Patricia’s family are now a family in recovery, and as such they feel a lot more positive. She states that it takes time to get to that place. Patricia now works on various initiatives in advancing family recovery and believe it is an essential part of the whole picture

Barbara Brennan is an inspirational ‘thought leader’ in her field. Barbara has over 12 years’ experience in changing the culture of mental health at all levels of society. A regular contributor to national mainstream and social media, Barbara is at home speaking to local community groups, CEO’s or senior leaders in the public and corporate world. She has lectured at Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin, and University College Cork inspiring people to think differently about mental health and wellbeing. In the national discourse on mental health Barbara has motivated change and advised policy makers such as the National Office for Suicide Prevention, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Mental Health Commission and Irish Mental Health Lawyers Association. A highly esteemed trainer and facilitator, Barbara now uses her passion and experience to lead a national programme ‘See Change’, to give voice to people with lived experience of mental health difficulties, inspire a message of hope and recovery and ultimately spark an international conversation on reducing stigma.

Sushil Teji is retired from Corporate life and now volunteers his time to support work in the community with Mental Health Engagement. He is currently involved in his Local Area Forum and some National Advisory Groups representing the perspective of the Family and  supporters.

Sushil is married with 2 adult children and engaged with mental health services as a spouse.

He is motivated by the desire to keep the needs of the Family members at the forefront of discussions and policy making around Mental Health in Ireland and to ensure that those policies are matched with actions in the community.


Browse the videos from the conference where family members, those with lived experience of mental health challenges and service providers discuss family recovery.


The South East Recovery College have compiled a beautiful and resource rich guide to services and supports for family recovery. You can see the Family Recovery Tree on the web-page or download the full document by tapping the button below.


download guide

You can also download the Family, Carer and Supporters Guide by clicking on it.

Family Peer Support Workers can offer emotional support, information and practical tips on navigating mental health services. Contact the Office for Mental Health Engagement & Recovery or one of the network of recovery education services across Ireland for more info. The Recovery Colleges are also providing a range of online classes and group supports at the moment. You can find a timetable here.

There are many ways we can support loved ones who are experiencing mental health challenges during Covid-19. One of the best ways to start is with a conversation with your loved one. Connect, communicate and reassure.

Dedicated to:

Francis Walsh, who departed this life on 8th May 2020.

A pleasure to work with and to know. Competent, dedicated and gifted and has left a legacy in recovery education and peer support working in Ireland. His qualities as a person made Francis so special, his compassion, empathy, his eternal good humour and positivity. Francis was a true gentleman, very humble but a warrior for recovery and the rights of service users and family members, his commitment and passion for this work was inspiring.

‘Thank you’ Francis our dearest friend and colleague.

Watch Virtual Conference 

Recorded on Friday 15th May

Watch Follow Up Q&A

The panelists came back together to answer some of the questions there was no time to answer on the day of the conference. 

For Emotional Support Contact Samaritans

Samaritans is a unique charity dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection that can lead to suicide. Every six seconds they respond to a call for help. They’re there 24/7, before, during and after a crisis and they make sure there’s always someone there, for anyone who needs someone.