Mental Health for School Leaders Conference

This three-day residential was held at La Mon Hotel and Country Club in Newtownards, with a focus on mental health and wellbeing in schools.

The event featured both local and international mental health experts including Siobhan O’Neil, Mental Health Champion, Northern Ireland; Dr. Boris Jokić (Croatia), Director of the Institute for Social Research in Zagreb, Dr Eirini Adamopoulou, a school psychology practitioner, teacher trainer and researcher from Athens, Greece, Tzvetelina Iossifova, a mental health practitioner from Sofia, Bulgaria and Joanne Ferrara (USA), Associate Dean of Manhatanville College.

Key topics over the three days included mental health and Covid-19, dealing with trauma, and emotional wellbeing - tools for teachers and students.

Conference objectives

  • To explore the three Pillars of Mental Health – from a Psychological, Practical and Research Lens.
  • To reflect on the materials and learning and highlight key actions for moving self and school community toward embedding a Mental Health Ethos.

Conference key themes

  • To consider the importance of investing in your mental wealth and review its impact on ourselves and the school community; 
  • To use research from Positive Psychology Research and Neuroscience to explore what positive individual and school mental wealth means in practice.
  • To develop skills to invest in mental wealth for yourself and your school.
  • The Power of Focusing ‘on what’s working’ and generating relational positive dosing for self and others.
  • Understanding the Negativity Bias of the Brain.
  • Reviewing the Impact of Emotional Contagion for self and others
  • CIA Model – circle of control/influence.
  • Cultivating Compassion for self and with stakeholders.
  • Develop a personal/school Mental Wealth Plan- PERMA.

Key Speakers

The conference will include Northern Ireland and International speakers from America, Croatia, Spain and Greece.

They are: 

Nichola Lynagh, Consultant in Leadership Coaching 

Prof Siobhan O’Neil, Mental health Champion for Northern Ireland

Dr Boris Jokic, Director of Institute for Social Research.  Former leader of Curriculum Reform in Croatia

Dr Eirini Adamopoulou, Lecturer and Researcher in School psychology and Child Protection Focal point at the Skaramagas Learning centre, Greece

Tzvetelina Yossifova, Lecturer at New Bulgarian University; Co-creator of Kabinet - website offering free online support for young people during Covid-19, including mental health through creativity and art.

Jo-Anne Ferara, Associate Dean of Manhatanville College & Author

Sonjia Uhlmann, Safeguarding Manager and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead, British Council Spain

Janette Tweed, Coach

Iestyn Brown, Principal, Newry High School, NI

Jonathan Keohane, Principal, Roath Park Primary School, Wales