NI Mental Health Expo

To mark World Mental Health Day 2023 on Tuesday 10th October, the Mental Health Champion was shining a light on the work being undertaken in Northern Ireland’s Mental Health Services. Staff in both the Statutory and Community & Voluntary sector are delivering life changing treatment and care, to reduce suffering and help individuals, families and communities to flourish.

The NI Mental Health Expo was an opportunity to learn more about the services available, with 15 exhibitors showcasing the mental health services they provide that are making a difference, as well as a series of talks and panel sessions throughout the day discussing some of the most important work currently ongoing.

Exhibitors included:

  • Action Mental Health
  • Aware NI
  • Mindwise
  • Inspire
  • Samaritans NI
  • Lifeline
  • PIPS Suicide Prevention Charity
  • Papyrus NI
  • Extern
  • Find Help NI
  • Belfast Trust
  • Families’ Voices Forum
  • The Rainbow Project

See more about our Exhibitors and the Expo here: /ni-mental-health-expo-campaign

Full Agenda

09:30 – 10:00              Registration Opens and Expo Opens

10:00 – 10:15              Welcome and Opening Remarks

Professor Siobhan O’Neill, Mental Health Champion

10:15 – 10:45              Launch of Fundamental Facts of Mental Health

Presentation with Mental Health Foundation

The Mental Health Champion and the Mental Health Foundation are delighted to launch ‘The Fundamental Facts about Mental Health in Northern Ireland,’ this report provides an updated summary of important statistics about mental health in Northern Ireland. In this session the Mental Health Foundation will present accurate and up to date figures on the numbers of people with poor mental health in NI, how we compare with other regions and how our services compare with those available elsewhere.

10:45 – 11:15              Break

11:15 – 12:00              Panel Session: Trauma Services in NI

Trauma, including childhood adversities are important predictors of mental ill health. The legacy of conflict has also left its mark on the mental health of the NI population. In this session we explore the ways in which we treat and support those that have experienced childhood adversity and trauma. We also highlight the features of effective treatments for trauma related mental health difficulties, and discuss the ways in which we as a society can become more trauma informed.


  • Dr Ciara Downes, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Northern Health and Social Care Trust
  • Dr Mark Conachy, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and Kingsbridge Healthcare Group
  • Dr Paul Gallagher, Trauma Education Officer, WAVE Trauma Centre
  • Ian Jeffers, Commissioner for Victims and Survivors

12:00 – 12:15              Break

12:15 – 12:45              Keynote: Public Health Approaches to Address Mental Illness and Suicide

Professor Ann John, Professor of Public Health and Psychiatry, Swansea University Medical School

12:45 – 13:30              Break and Lunch

13:30 – 14:30              Panel Session: Politics, Policy and Mental Health

How can politics and policy be used to improve poor mental health in NI, while also creating a society that focuses on improving public wellness in order to prevent mental ill health in the future?


  • Órlaithí Flynn MLA, Sinn Féin
  • Diane Forsythe MLA, DUP
  • Paula Bradshaw MLA, Alliance Party
  • Robbie Butler MLA, UUP
  • Colin McGrath MLA, SDLP

14:30 – 15.00              Break

15:00 – 15:30             Keynote: Towards Zero Suicide

The TZS Programme is committed to enhancing the care and outcomes of mental health patients and patients in prisons. Sharing the learning to date from the following Northern Ireland Towards Zero Suicide (TZS) quality improvement patient safety initiatives:

  • Suicide Prevention Care Pathway
  • Early post-discharge Appointment
  • Building Safer Wards
  • Workforce development
  • Healthcare in Prisons


  • Jan McGall, Director of Mental Health and Disability Services, Southern Health and Social Care Trust. Chair of Towards Zero Suicide Regional Collaborative Board
  • Liz McGrath, Towards Zero Suicide Service Improvement Manager Southern Health and Social Care Trust
  • Alan Dagg, Team Leader, Recovery College, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust
  • Damien Kavanagh, Service Improvement Manager, Healthcare in Prisons, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust

15:30 – 16:00              Break

16:00 – 16:45             Panel Session: Mental Health in the Community

It has long been recognised that mental health is built in communities, and in NI a high proportion of mental health services are delivered within the community and voluntary sector. Community-based services are also vital in providing the early, preventative interventions which keep people healthy and support families who are struggling. This panel will focus on the services provided in the community-voluntary sector and the ways in which they align with statutory services to support safe and healthy communities.


  • Alex Bunting, Group Director of Therapeutic and Wellbeing Services, Inspire
  • David Babington, Chief Executive, Action Mental Health
  • Fiona Teague, Head of Health Improvement, Public Health Agency
  • Shelley Keenan, Mental Health Lead, Down, North Down and Ards GP Federations

16:45 – 17:00             Closing remarks and end of Expo

Professor Siobhan O’Neill, Mental Health Champion