A Two-Day Conference organised by the School of Applied Social Studies and the Catherine McAuley School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork, in association with the Critical Voices Network Ireland


Venue: Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.

Booking: To book a place, email Please make sure you give your name, and indicate the day(s) you wish to attend (either Wednesday 12 November, Thursday 13 November, or both days). Booking will be confirmed by return email.

Registration: Please bring the booking confirmation slip with you to the conference registration desk on the day(s) you are attending.

The conference offers opportunities:

  • to consider the value and relevance of psychiatric diagnoses in understanding and responding to a wide range of human experiences of emotional distress
  • to explore critical perspectives on and creative responses beyond psychiatric diagnoses

This conference, now in its sixth year, is unique as it is free for all participants and it involves people from diverse backgrounds (self-experience, survivors, professionals, academics, carers) presenting, discussing and debating critical and creative perspectives on and beyond the dominant bio-medical approach. The 2010 conference saw the launch of the Critical Voices Network Ireland (CVNI), a network of people interested in considering and developing responses to human distress, which are creative, enabling, respectful and firmly grounded in human rights. The conference will include an open forum to discuss the on-going work of the CVNI.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers (in alphabetical order):

Wilma Boevink, experiential expert, social scientist at Trimbos-Institute, the Netherlands.  Founder of Tree (towards Recovery, Empowerment and Experiential expertise).

Pat Bracken, Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director, West Cork Mental Health Service.  Author, with Phil Thomas, of Postpsychiatry: Mental Health in a Postmodern World.  

David Harper, Reader in Clinical Psychology, University of East London.  Co-author of Deconstructing Psychopathology  and co-author/editor of Psychology, Mental Health & Distress.

Stuart Neilson lectures and writes about the autism spectrum and mental health in Adult Continuing Education UCC, incorporating his personal perspective as a client.

Olga Runciman, psychiatric survivor and chair of the Danish HVN. Works as a psychologist offering therapy to those who are often denied therapeutic help due to ‘severe mental illness’.

Jim Walsh is a self-proclaimed sceptic toward all that is accepted as certainty, or proclaimed to be ‘truth’.  Despite growing up in Northern Ireland at the height of the ‘troubles’, being subject to prolonged societal and environmental ‘stressors’ he still thinks himself lucky in life.

Concurrent Sessions: the conference also includes a series of workshops and oral presentations, related to the conference theme.

Full programme: full details will be available in early October on and . Check for accommodation.

To get to Brookfield (UCC) check Parking facilities are limited around UCC. Try car park next to Kingsley Hotel, Victoria Cross (10 walk from venue via footbridge behind Western Gateway Building on Western Road). Coffees and lunches not included. There are restaurants and cafes in and around the conference venue.

The Conference organisers are Lydia Sapouna, School of Applied Social Studies and Harry Gijbels, Catherine McAuley School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork, Ireland.