Professionals to speak up about harm caused by mental health practices at UCC conference


This year’s Critical Voices Network Ireland will tackle the subject of ‘iatrogenic harm’ – potentially harmful practices caused inadvertently by treatment and care in mental health services.

Taking place in November 8 and 9 in UCC, organisers Lydia Sapouna, School of Applied Social Studies and Harry Gijbels (retired), School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork, Ireland, said:

First do no harm is considered a key ethical principle in health and social care practices. Yet, over the years, we have heard many accounts of harm caused by coercion, neglect, overmedication, adverse drug reactions, loss of dignity and agency from people who have used/are using mental health services. Over the years, we have also become aware of professionals who are concerned about potentially harmful caregiving practices but are afraid to speak out. This conference aims to provide a space to explore issues of iatrogenic harm caused by mental health practices, seeking and sharing creative ways to move towards ‘First, do good’ practices.”

The conference has a number of high profile speakers, including Mark Horowitz, clinical research fellow in Psychiatry and co-lead clinician of the psychotropic deprescribing clinic at North East London NHS Foundation Trust, and Pat Bracken, independent consultant psychiatrist and board member of Kyrie Farm.

The full list of keynote speakers confirmed to date (in alphabetical order) is:

  • Pat Bracken, Independent Consultant Psychiatrist, Ireland
  • Jacqui Dillon, Activist, Writer, Educator and Chair of ISPS UK, England
  • Agnes Higgins, Researcher, Professor in mental health nursing, Board member of Kyrie Farm and eternal optimist, and Mike Watts, Recovery activist, Ireland
  • Mark Horowitz, clinical research fellow in Psychiatry and co-lead clinician of the Psychotropic Deprescribing Clinic at North East London NHS Foundation Trust, England
  • Charles O’Mahony, Lecturer in Law, School of Law, University of Galway, Ireland
  • Avril Scannell, Post Patient, Peer Advocate, and Deirdre Lillis, Advocate with SHEP (Social and Health Education Project) Advocacy Programme, Cork, Ireland

The conference is still seeking abstracts (oral presentations/workshops) of 45 minutes’ duration related to the conference theme and outlining its aims and intentions. Please email your abstract (in Word- 250 words max) and a brief bio (in Word – 150 words max) by 18 September 2024. Inquiries to or Registration details will be circulated in late September 2024.