Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Niall Breslin awarded Honorary Fellowship of RCSI Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery

02 March 2017

Irish & International academics to address delegates at annual Nursing research and Education Conference


Mental health advocate, Irish musician, television presenter and former professional rugby player, Mr Niall Breslin was made an Honorary Fellow of the RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery last night at a ceremony that opened the 36th Annual International Nursing and Midwifery Research and Education Conference, which continues today at RCSI.
Niall Breslin awarded Honorary Fellowship of RCSI's Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery
Niall Breslin awarded Honorary Fellowship of RCSI's Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery

Mr Breslin gave the conference opening address and then received the Honorary Fellowship, the highest honour the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery can bestow, in recognition of his contribution to mental health advocacy.

Mr Breslin has campaigned to help change attitudes towards mental health issues in Ireland and advocated on the need for educational, systematic and cultural change. In 2015 Mr Breslin, also known as ‘Bressie', co-founded the website ‘A Lust for Life' which aims to normalise the conversation around mental health and emotional wellbeing. His bestselling book ‘Me and My Mate Jeffrey' was published the same year chronicling his mental health journey.


Speaking on his Honorary Fellowship, Mr Breslin said: "I am sincerely humbled to receive this honorary fellowship from the RCSI Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery. If we are to truly transform the outdated and generational attitudes towards mental health in Ireland it will take a collective response from our health care professionals, those in influence of power and our wider society and we must do so with empathy, sensitivity and humanity. We must recognise the progress that we have made in this regard in recent years but it's a long road to travel. We must join the dots and work together if we are to normalise the conversation around mental health and develop a system that supports and cares for the most vulnerable, while also looking at ways of moving towards a preventative rather than reactive model of care."

Dr Theresa Frawley, Vice Dean of the RCSI Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery commended Mr Breslin on going public with his own mental health issues in order to help others and promote positive mental health and said: "Niall has courageously revealed his personal struggle with mental health issues and spoke openly about his experience of living with anxiety. Niall was 13 years old when he experienced his first panic attack and has depicted his life journey, vividly describing how panic attacks, insomnia and anxiety, affected his day to day life and left him feeling terrified. He also revealed the impact of not having the language to describe it, nor the understanding to cope with it, in a society that deeply stigmatised it."

Speaking on how Mr Breslin has used his profile to engage with the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children, Dr Frawley continued: "As a mental health champion, Niall uses his public profile to help others affected by mental health issues and especially focuses on the needs of younger members of society. He promotes the importance of identifying and destroying the stigma associated with mental health. He strives to create awareness around mental health and to motivate others towards self-efficacy. He also encourages people to be true to oneself, to engage with relevant services and supports and when possible to take personal control of one's health and wellbeing".

Honorary Fellowships of the Faculty were also be awarded to Ms Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, former ombudsman for children and Director of Nursing and to Mr John Murray, Vice President of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI), in recognition of their outstanding contributions to society, nursing and midwifery.

About the RCSI Annual International Nursing & Midwifery Research & Educational Conference
More than 250 nurses and midwives will attend the 36th RCSI Annual International Nursing & Midwifery Research and Educational Conference to hear speakers from all over Europe, the USA, Australia, the Middle East, Canada and Ireland on the latest developments in areas such as older person and aged patient care; mental health and disability nursing; cancer care; neonatal and children's nursing; caring and compassion in nursing and midwifery; as well as addressing issues that are affecting nursing and midwifery staff in Ireland. The theme of the conference is ‘Nursing and Midwifery Professional Values - The Key to Effective, Safe and High Quality Person-Centred Care'. RCSI staff are invited to attend any of the sessions of the conference today.

Dr Siobhan O'Halloran, Chief Nursing Officer at the Department of Health will deliver today's keynote address on ‘Strengthening the sustainability of the Nursing and Midwifery Workforce', while Honorary Fellow, Ms Emily Logan of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, will speak on ‘Human Rights and Patient-Centred Care'. Dr Beverly Malone, Chief Executive Officer, National League for Nursing, Washington D.C., USA will deliver a presentation on ‘Operationalising Values in Healthcare'.

Speaking on the conference, Ms Mary Jacob, Dean of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at RCSI said: "This conference is an important forum for practising nurses and midwives, students, researchers and academics to network, exchange ideas on current research, best clinical practice. We hope our conference, which is one of the longest-running nursing conferences in Europe, will allow our guests to use this up-to-date information to contribute to the enhancement of patient high quality patient-centred healthcare.."

Other topics being presented at the conference include:

‘Developing Person-Centred Learning Environments: An Agenda for Resilient Nurses' - Professor Brendan McCormack, Head of the Division of Nursing and Head of the Graduate School, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
‘Developing a Community Nursing and Midwifery Response to an Integrated Model of Care' - Ms. Susan Kent, Department of Health
‘Nurses and Health Care Assistants Perceptions of the Use of Physical Restraints on Older Adults in Continuing Care' - Dr. Patricia Leahy-Warren, University College Cork,
‘Implementation of Safe Nurse Staffing Policy' - Professor Jonathan Drennan, University College Cork
‘An Exploration of Perinatal Death with Midwifery Students Using a Collaborative Art Project' - Ms. Maebh Barry, University of Limerick
‘Exploring the Preferred Strategies to Learn About Testicular Disorders: A Qualitative Study of Young Heterosexual, Gay and Bisexual Men' - Mr. Mohamad Saab, University College Cork
‘Examining the Process and Impact of Risk Stratification using a Community Virtual Ward Model to Manage Older Persons Complex Care Needs' - Ms. Clare Lewis, RCSI

RCSI is ranked in the top 250 institutions worldwide in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2016-2017). It is an international not-for-profit health sciences institution, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide.