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Mental Health top of the agenda at 3rd Annual Undergraduate Conference and Social Science Fair hosted by Department of Applied Social Sciences at LIT


“We must keep questioning and refining our understanding of the nature and the cause of Mental Health Issues.” These were some of the words spoken by Dr Terry Lynch, Mental Health activist, GP and Psychotherapist, when he spoke as Keynote at the Undergraduate Conference hosted by The Department of Applied Social Sciences, in LIT recently. Dr Lynch was speaking to a large attentive audience of final year Social Care students, Social Science practitioners, Agency personnel and academic staff at LIT’s Moylish campus.

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Picture:
Kim Mulcahy Year 4 Academic Poster winner with Geraldine Maughan Lecturer 'Working with Young People' and Jackie Kearney, Postgraduate Social Science Research Student.

Jason Ryan, Year 4 Academic poster winner with Joanne Begley, Brothers of Charity.

In a passionate address, Dr Lynch spoke of his own experience as a GP and how he had begun to question the prevailing medical understanding of emotional and mental health, including the major reliance on medication in the treatment of Mental Health Issues with his patients. He described how he consulted with colleagues to see if they had similar concerns. If there was more to Mental distress than the supposed cause of an imbalance of neurotransmitters? It was this which led him to devote his time and focus to a search for evidence of the medical model of Mental Health, which is he now describes as predominantly a belief system, infused with many myths and inaccuracies, based on questionable research, a fundamental lack of hard scientific evidence and a lamentable failure to assign due importance to the emotional, psychological and social aspects of human beings). He has since written many books on the subject, his most well known is ‘Beyond Prozac’. Dr Lynch now practises as a mental health practitioner guided by a recovery-oriented approach to Mental Health issues with even the most severe of Mental Health difficulties and he has been influential in many government policies relating to Mental Health sitting on many National Advisory panels and committees on the matter.

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Picture:
Izabela Szlachta Year 4 Academic poster winner with Neal Whelan, Lecturer in Addiction Studies.

Amy McLaughlin, Year 1 'Design a Dept Hoody' winner with Cathy Jones, Head of Department of Applied Social Sciences.

Dr Lynch is currently developing training programmes for Mental Health practitioners to promote a better understanding of mental health problems and a more person centred, recovery orientated approach to managing Mental Health issues. He was highly complimentary of the types of undergraduate research he experienced at the conference, including the students parallel sessions where they spoke about their own thesis findings to the academic posters they had also developed in the areas of Mental Health, Addiction, Working with Young People and Challenging Behaviour within their final year, all 123 of the posters were exhibited at the Social Science Fair at LIT on Friday 8th.

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Picture:
Caoimhe Guinnane, Year 4 Class Rep and 'Design a Dept Hoody' Runner up with Cathy Jones, Head of Department of Applied Social Sciences.

Dr Terry Lynch giving keynote speech on Mental Health.

The Social Science Fair was well represented by many well known local agencies in the Health and Social Care arena such as GOSHH, Daughters of Charity, Foroige, Compass, the National Platform for Self Advocates, Home Instead, Peter McVerry Trust, Ana Liffey Drugs Project and Share A Dream. Some hosted workshops for students and the busy day at the Aula Maxima Hall in LIT achieved its aim as Cathy Jones Head of Department of Applied Social Sciences stated: ‘It was about bringing key people together from the Mid-West to discuss Social Issues and Social Justice and to begin dialogue about how we as educators can work more effectively in partnership with local services to support best practise and courageous social change in our communities, in line with our Department Vision.” She also complimented Dr Terry Lynch on a very fitting and timely keynote about the need to urgently address the real causes of Mental Health issues.

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Picture:
Dr Terry Lynch, Keynote Speaker and Cathy Jones, Head of Department of Applied Social Sciences.

Ms Lisa Scott, Conference Organiser, Cathy Jones, Head of Department of Applied Social Sciences, Dr Terry Lynch Keynote, Ms Marian Duggan, Head of Faculty of Business & Humanities, Liam Brown, Vice President for Research and Development​.

Lisa Scott, conference organiser also commented that 'The conference presentations showcased research projects carried out by social care work students in the final year of their honours degree. The theme of this year's conference 'lifespace research' was chosen to reflect the unique perspective that practitioner-scholars have on the lives and experiences of users of social care services. We were extremely proud of the work that our students presented this year and it is a great credit to them and the academic staff who supervised them, that this work is of such high quality.'

The large number of conference delegates left thoroughly inspired by Dr Lynch’s address, the conference proceedings and the plenary session which was hosted by Dr Michael Ryan from the Department of Applied Social Sciences team in Thurles. At the plenary, Dr Ryan guided the audience in a review of the day’s proceedings and facilitated some lively debate on the purpose of research. Thurles students William Dunne, Lucy Clement and Ayo Williams discussed their research from their BA in Social and Community studies programme and a Q and A discussion took place to round up the discussions about Social Science research and the current views on Mental Health. Dr Terry Lynch was in LIT for the full day and he contributed to this discussion and finally was part of the judging panel along with Olivia Bane and the Community Drug team, Joanne Begley and Derek Byrne and his colleagues from Compass Family and Child Services. The prizes were awarded for the best academic posters, winners were Sarah Keogh, Jason Ryan, Izabela Szlacta and Kim Mulcahy all final year students on the BA in Social Care Work at LIT. ​​​

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