Connect Mental Health community conference 'Inspire Hope'

Conference aims to provide those attending with a better understanding of their own mental health

Michael Daly


Michael Daly

Connect Mental Health community conference 'Inspire Hope'

The Connect Mental Health community conference 'Inspire Hope' will take place in the Abbey Arts Centre Ballyshannon this Saturday 8th October with guest speakers including Olympic silver medalist Kenneth Egan, best selling author and model Alison Canavan,  mental health expert Dr. Keith Gaynor and more. The event is free to attend and is aimed at the north west community and is of interest to anyone who wishes to learn more about their mental health and wellbeing.

Attendance at the Conference on Saturday is free and founder of Connect Mental Health Ciaran McLoone said this week that he hopes the Inspire Hope conference will provide those attending with a better understanding of their own mental health and how to help and support others who maybe experiencing difficulties. ' The event is being run for the benefit of the people of the North West and I know from personal experience how important it is to look after your own mental health'.

The conference on Saturday will commence at 1pm. To attend you can either register online in advance on the Connect Mental Health website or at the door on the day.


Kenneth Egan
Kenneth Egan has competed at the highest level in his sport of amateur boxing, the pinnacle being the Silver medal at the Beijing Olympic Games 2008. He has represented his country over 200 times. Kenneth has also had his fare share of adversity and struggled with alcohol addiction for many years whilst competing but ultimately came to an end when he faced his demons head on two years after his return from the games.

Alison Canavan
Alison Canavan is an award winning author of wellness book “Minding Mum” and a health and wellness coach. Having travelled the world as one of Ireland’s most successful international models for nearly two decades, in recent years she has devoted her time to her greatest passion: true health and wellbeing. Alison has become a much sought after motivational speaker and regularly does talks on mental health and wellbeing in schools, corporates and events around the country and is a regular contributor to radio and TV shows nationwide.

Robert Carley
Robert’s communication style has made him a sought after speaker for conferences and seminars and he delivers his message of “easy to do” life changers with honesty and humour. That’s what he does for a living, but for a life he is “Dad” to five amazing young adults. Robert delights in sharing the lessons he has learned in life (through both good times and bad times) and is convinced that learning through laughter is a great recipe for change.

Dr. Keith Gaynor
Dr Keith Gaynor works as a senior clinical psychologist in the Outpatient Department of St John of God Hospital, Stillorgan. He specialises in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) treatments of anxiety and depression. Keith trained at King’s College London and University College Dublin. He has written widely in academic journals on the topic of CBT and is a regular contributor to the Irish media, including The Tubridy Show, Prime Time and The Irish Independent, on issues of mental health.

Donal Scanlan
Donal Scanlan is the Project Manager for Mental Health First Aid Ireland.  MHFA is internationally available in over 23 countries with well over 1 million people trained worldwide.  Donal has worked as a mental health professional for over 15 years and has campaigned for mental health awareness, anti-stigma campaigns and well-being on local and national stages; talking regularly in schools, colleges and communities about his own mental health and well-being

Breifne Earley
In October 2010, stuck in a negative work environment, severely overweight, single, and feeling the world and would be better off without him, Breifne Earley made the decision to end his own life. Less than five years later he was first across the finish line of the longest endurance sports event in the world, the 30,000km long World Cycle Race. Breifne tells the extraordinary and inspirational story of how one man stepped back from the brink of suicide, redesigned his life and then spent sixteen months cycling through 27 countries on 5 continents with 3 robberies, 3 crashes and 44 flat tyres to become a living, breathing example of the life-saving message “It’s okay not to feel okay.”

Tara West
Tara West had already established a career as an advertising copywriter in Belfast when she wrote her first novel, Fodder. The book was published by Blackstaff Press to widespread critical acclaim and established her reputation as a talented new Irish voice. Her second novel, Poets Are Eaten as a Delicacy in Japan, was published by Liberties Press in 2013 and was described by Ian Sansom as ‘the funniest book written by a Northern Irish author this century’.

Liberties will publish her memoir about depression and recovery, Happy Dark, in 2016. Tara also runs memoir-writing workshops, and is passionate about helping others tell their story.

Week long series of events

Following the conference there will be a week long series of events including workshops to support young peoples mental health in the Abbey Vocational School Donegal Town, Colaiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon and Magh Ene College, Bundoran. Community and Business workshops will also take place in Letterkenny ,Bundoran and Donegal Town with the week finishing up with a fun run/walk &talk in the Breesy Centre Cashelard on Saturday the 15th. Full details can be found on