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Island hosts international mental health research conference

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Professor Cooper’s keynote address to delegates

Developments in mental health research have been centre stage at a three day conference hosted in the Isle of Man, which attracted an international field of expert delegates.

Entitled All in the mind? Global perspectives on understanding, researching and treating mental health, the eventwas held from 8 - 10 February 2018 at Keyll Darree in Braddan.

The conference brought together like-minded mental health practitioners from across Europe, who shared research experiences and were able to measure themselves against their peers.

Around 90 delegates attended from as far afield as Austria, Germany, Finland, Portugal, Italy, Macedonia, Turkey and Poland, as well as Ireland, the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man.

Keynote speakers, presenters and plenary sessions tackled a wide range of issues including diagnosis, children’s mental health, addiction, research methodology and the impact of mental health treatment. Delegates also heard about the experiences of mental health service users and how their voices can be heard. 

Research papers were presented on topics ranging from the use of psychodrama for young people with Asperger’s Syndrome, to the mental health of prisoners of war during World War ll.

The conference raised the profile of research and development within the Isle of Man Mental Health Service, which organised the event in conjunction with the European psychotherapy organisation FEPTO (Federation of European Psychodrama Training Organisations).

It was sponsored by the IOM Medical Research Committee with additional support from the Department of Enterprise, which arranged a bus tour of the Island for delegates, Manx musicians for the social evening and provided small gifts for the visitors of gorse-scented candles.

DHSC minister David Ashford opened the conference and the Director of Community Care Angela Murray gave the opening address. 

Minister Ashford said:

‘This was an excellent opportunity to showcase the Island’s contribution to research and development in mental health. Awareness of expertise here in the Island has been considerably raised among an international audience, while our own staff have had an opportunity to gain professional development without having to travel off the Island.'

He added:

‘Away from the conference, we took the opportunity to show delegates around our Island, to ensure they took away memories from beyond the conference floor, and we hope to welcome some of them back in the future.’

Two eminent professors gave inspiring plenary presentations on each day: Phil Jones on ways to help young people be part of research and to have a say in schools, and Mick Cooper on what makes a good mental health practitioner.

The international gathering gave mental health organisations from other jurisdictions an opportunity to connect outside the main conference agenda. In one instance, new friendships and professional links were forged when two Portuguese psychologists working in the Isle of Man met two Portuguese psychodramatists attending the event.   

Juan Corlett, chair of the conference committee said:

‘Feedback has been excellent. The delegates were impressed with the research work going on in IOM mental health services and over the moon with the organisation and quality of the conference, the friendliness and hospitality of the Manx people, and the beauty of the Island.' 

Several delegates have promised to return to walk the hills and discover more about Manx culture, history and music.

Image: Professor Cooper's keynote address to delegates

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