Remembering a father and son with talks on positive mental health

A SECOND-annual series of events about mental health and families is set to take place in Kilkenny this month, with two talks to be given by local psychologist Dr Fergus Heffernan.

A SECOND-annual series of events about mental health and families is set to take place in Kilkenny this month, with two talks to be given by local psychologist Dr Fergus Heffernan.

Taking place on March 21 and 28 in the Abbey Business Centre, the initiative is in memory of a father and son who both lost their lives by suicide just a few years ago.

It started last year as The Shane and Jim O’Neill Spring School, an education programme focusing on building resilience in families, explained Dr Heffernan, who is a director of services for RD Consult, a renowned psychologist and psychotherapist, and an educator in the area of stress management and how it relates to mental health.

While working with wife/mother Eileen O’Neill, they came up with the idea as a way of marking Jim’s and Shane’s anniversary each year by trying to create something positive for people’s mental health.

The aim for the future is to build it into a type of ‘Summer School’ over a weekend with a range of national and international guest speakers.

This year’s talks, both of which will be presented by Dr Heffernan, include “Understanding the Emotional Dynamics of Families” on March 21 and “Manage Your Life by Managing Your Mind” on March 28, with both taking place from 8-10pm.

“The idea is to have a ‘spring school’ and education programme for building resilience in families,” Dr Heffernan explained. “If we can just educate families, then when things go wrong there are things you can do.”

As for the types of people the talks are aimed at, he said: “Everybody should come – anybody from professionals working in the area, parents trying to survive, family members and anyone who just wants information (about mental health).”

“The more people can sit down and talk about it (the better),” Dr Heffernan said, “because as I always say, you can deal with what you know, you can’t deal with what you don’t know.”

Admission is €10 and places can be booked by calling 087 9277479.