Board of Management - Mental Health Reform

Mental Health Reform Board Members

Professor Agnes Higgins, Chairperson of Mental Health Reform 

Agnes Higgins, Professor in Mental Health at the School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, was appointed Chairperson of Mental Health Reform in December 2016.  Prof. Higgins is a qualified mental health nurse, general nurse and nurse tutor. She holds a primary degree from UCD, an MSc from DCU and a PhD from Trinity College Dublin.

Prof. Higgins’ research interests are in the area of mental health recovery, service user involvement, gender and sexualities. She has completed studies on service users’ recovery journeys, impact of different models of recovery on users’ and family members’ experiences of recovery, factors influencing recover-oriented education, impact of peer-support on recovery outcomes, sexualities and LGBT mental health. She is widely published in her areas of expertise and is co-editor of the book ‘Mental Health in Ireland: Policy Practice and Law’ published by Gill and Macmillan in 2014, and co-author of ‘Narratives of Recovery; the role of peer support’ published by Rutledge in 2016.  She is originally from Galway, but now lives with her husband Jim in Dublin.

Tanya Ward is the Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance since 2012. Previously, she was the Deputy Director at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) where she worked for eight years. She has also worked with the Irish Centre for Migration Studies, the Irish Refugee Council, the Curriculum Development Unit and the City of Dublin VEC. A former lecturer in human rights on the MPhil in Ethnic and Racial Studies, TCD and the Masters in Equality Studies in the UCD School for Social Justice, she is a former board member with Campaign for Children and played a major role in the children’s referendum of 2012. She was also Vice President for the International Federation of Human Rights (2008-2011). Tanya has graduate and post-graduate degrees from UCC and a LLM in Human Rights from Queens University Belfast as well as a Certificate in Managing Community and Voluntary Organisations from the National College of Ireland.

Ali Rochford is the Community Development Worker with Gateway Mental Health Association. She has worked in the area of community mental health for several years, and also has personal experience of significant mental health challenges. Ali has a particular interest in advancing community approaches to mental health, and as well as pursuing this through her development work in Gateway she also regularly delivers WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) training.

Oliver Duffy is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin with a background in ICT. He also been awarded a ‘Certificate of Achievement’ from Dublin City University in Cooperative Learning: Service Improvement Leadership for Mental Health Service Users, Carers and Service Providers.’ Oliver is a member of Gateway Mental Health Association and also sits on its advisory committee. He has also served as a member of Mental Health Reform’s grassroots forum.

Mark Byrne is the Chief Executive of DeafHear since 2016. Mark is a qualified accountant by profession, and having completed his training with KPMG, moved to general industry. He held a number of finance and non-finance roles mainly in the retail and telecommunications sectors and worked for some well–known brands, including C&C and O2. Before joining DeafHear he spent seven years on the management team of Focus Ireland, including two years as Acting Chief Executive.

Conor Daly is an independent business consultant specialising in commercial strategy within regulated network industries.  He has over 20 years experience of building, leading and advising companies in the telecommunications and technology sectors worldwide. He has been a mentor on the client assistance programme of the Dublin Business Innovation Centre.  Conor is multilingual. He has a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of California Berkeley, and a Diploma in Applied Finance from the Irish Management Institute.

Pádraig Love is an Independent Consultant who specialises in recruitment/selection, public administration, civil service reform, ethics and probity in the public service. He was a career civil servant for 40 years who worked in a variety of departments/offices and played a key role in the establishment and development of the Public Appointments Service (PAS) in Ireland. He was seconded to the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) in Brussels for a number of years to help drive a modernisation programme through all aspects of EPSO’s business. As a senior manager with extensive experience in public service recruitment and selection he is a recognised expert in this area.

Pádraig is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development also holds a Master of Science Degree in Innovation Management in the Public Service, from the University of Ulster/Letterkenny Institute of Technology.

Expert Advisors to the Board

Dr. Mary Donnelly is a Senior Lecturer in the Law Faculty at University College Cork.  She works in the areas of mental health and human rights and is especially interested in issues of consent and capacity.  She is the author of Healthcare Decision-Making and the Law: Autonomy, Capacity and the Limits of Liberalism (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Consent: Bridging the Gap Between Doctor and Patient (Cork University Press, 2002) as well as  international and Irish articles and book chapters in relation to aspects of mental health law.

Mary is the legal and academic expert advisor to the MHR Board.

Dr. John Owens is a former Chairperson of the Mental Health Commission. He is a Consultant Psychiatrist and former Clinical Director of the Cavan/Monaghan Mental Health Service. Dr. Owens has been to the forefront of innovation in mental health service delivery with the development, under his leadership, of the home-based treatment model in the Cavan-Monaghan service.

John sat on the MHR Board from October 2010 to April 2013 and has since become the mental health expert advisor to the MHR Board.