Mental Health at UCD

UCD is committed to the creation of a work environment where every employee can feel supported no matter what issues they may be facing in life and where mental health wellbeing is promoted. It is estimated that one in five Irish people will experience a diagnosable mental health problem in any one year. UCD recognises that life can be stressful and always strives to support employees’ wellbeing.  

To this end, on World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2019, UCD is launching a new initiative (a Mental Health First Aid Peer Support Group) to promote positive mental health at work and to support any UCD employee who may be experiencing issues of a mental health nature. The Peer Support Group will be established via a selection following expressions of interest and will be trained in Mental Health First Aid with Mental Health First Aid Ireland. Please see below for more information on Mental Health First Aid Ireland, the role in UCD and how to apply.

MHFA Ireland 

The Mental Health First Aid Programme was created in Australia in 2000 by an educator and mental health consumer (Betty Kitchener) in partnership with a mental health researcher (Anthony Jorm). The MHFA programme has spread to 24 countries and has been incorporated into national mental health policy.

Saint John of God Hospital is a not-for profit, independent provider of mental health services. In May 2014 the Hospital signed a Memorandum of Understanding with MHFA Australia to adapt the course for Ireland and in October 2014 Betty Kitchener came to Saint John of God Hospital to advise on the roll out of the MHFA Ireland Programme.

Mental Health First Aid Peer Support

Members of the Mental Health First Aid Peer Support Group (MHFA Peer Support Group hereafter) were selected by a committee following expressions of interest. They provide non-judgemental, confidential support and information to employees experiencing difficulties of a mental health nature. Members of the MHFA Peer Support Group will be trained in Mental Health First Aid.

The Role

The MHFA Peer Support Group play a vital role in the University:


  • Promote positive mental health at work
  • Are a listening ear and source of information and support
  • Assist colleagues who may be concerned about their mental wellbeing or that of a colleague or friend
  • Assist colleagues who may be developing a mental health problem or crisis following a difficult time

The MHFA Peer Support Group can give information in a strictly confidential manner: no information will be passed to any third party without the permission of the employee. Where there is a risk of suicide, threat to life or potential harm to another party, confidentiality can be broken. In these instances, the Mental Health First Aid Peer Support group members will seek advice from relevant professional parties[1]. The support provided by a Mental Health First Aid Panel Member can take the form of an email, a phone call or a coffee on campus.

Members of the MHFA Peer Support Group will hold this role for three years.

A Member of UCD MHFA Peer Support Group will:

  • Have a commitment to the role for a period of three years
  • Be available to take part in a two-day Mental Health First Aid training and any other relevant training sessions while part of the Panel
  • Commit to take part in activities during UCD Mental Health Week each year
  • Be non-judgemental, approachable and trustworthy
  • Be calm and empathetic
  • Have good listening, communication and relationship skills
  • A high level of responsibility

What a Member of the UCD MHFA Peer Support Group does not do:

Code of Practice

The Mental Health First Aid Code of Practice can be downloaded here: MHFA Panel Code of Practice

More Information

Please contact us at for any questions.

Mental Health First Aid Peer Support Group: 

Elke Eichelmann 

Elke Eichelmann: I joined UCD in 2018 as an Assistant Professor/Lecturer in the School of Biology and Environmental Science. I am currently the Programme Director of the online programme in Environmental Sustainability. My research interests are in the area of biosphere-atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases and other trace gases. Outside of academic work I have been involved with campus groups that promote mental health and emotional support for students in the past, as well as with groups that support diversity and equity in science. I am an outdoorsy person and enjoy exploring Ireland on foot as much as I can. My extension is 2020.

Graeme Warren 

Graeme Warren: I have worked in the UCD School of Archaeology since 2002, including being Head of School 2016-2020. My research focuses on prehistoric hunter-gatherers and long-term histories of landscapes. Originally from England, I now live in Wicklow Town with my wife, two teenage daughters and an excessive number of cats. I am a mountain runner, enjoy cooking and sharing a range of nerdy interests with my family. I can be contacted on 8613.

Nadia Clarkin

Nadia Clarkin: I have worked in UCD since 2008 and am currently a Student Adviser to the Sutherland School of Law and the Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business. Prior to this I worked as a researcher in an independent research consultancy exploring the areas of stress at work, health promotion at work and technological solutions for people with disabilities and other marginalised groups. My professional interests include the personal and professional development of others through mentoring and coaching. Outside of work, I love travelling, cooking, reading and broadening my knowledge on a wide variety of topics through podcasts and other media. My extensions are: Smurfit 8953 and Law 4153.

Joe Houghton 

Joe Houghton: I am an Assistant Professor at UCD Smurfit Graduate School of Business where I am Programme Director for the MSc in Project Management programmes.  I have been involved with mental health since my early 20s, as a Samaritan trainer in the UK and since 2006, being closely involved with Pieta House where I was Chairman of the Board for 3 years. You can reach me at or on 086 384 3670.

Bei Gao 

Bei Gao: I joined UCD in 2010, and my current role is Business Analysis and Intelligence Manager for UCD College of Engineering & Architecture and College of Science. Prior to this, I worked as a researcher and worked in UCD Global. I am originally from China and have lived in Europe for 12 years. I like books, movies and travel. I have a genuine interest in people and different cultures. I can be reached at extension 1702. 

Susi Geiger 

Susi Geiger: I am a Full Professor in the College of Business, where I have worked since 2001, and the PI of a research team of 7 researchers in an ERC project called MISFIRES. My research interest revolves around addressing issues of fairness and justice in  markets, especially healthcare. I am particularly concerned with access to medicines and healthcare services, including mental health services. I have previously acted as an AURORA mentor and run a module on service learning. Outside academia, I am a member of Access to Medicines Ireland, where I campaign for accessible healthcare for all. I do Yoga, tango occasionally with UCD Staff Tango, run and read – if I'm not backpacking somewhere in the world with my family. My extension is 4813, and my door in the Quinn School of Business is always open.  

Ronan ORourke 

Ronan O'Rourke: I have been at UCD since June 2019 working in the Student Recruitment Unit. I completed an M. Ed. in Counselling Psychology and a C.A.G.S in Athletic Counselling during my time at Springfield College in Massachusetts where I also worked for five years with the Men's Soccer Program. I have a great love for sports of all kinds in particular Liverpool FC, the Irish National teams, and Leinster Rugby. I also possess a passion for music, films and general wellbeing. A fun fact about me is that I grew up in Brussels, Belgium. I can be reached at extension 1507.  

Deirdre OConnor 

Deirdre O'Connor: I am currently a Lecturer in Resource Economics in the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Science at UCD, teaching across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.  My main research interests are in the area of Rural Development and Food Policy. I very much enjoy the international dimension of my work and have held visiting academic positions in universities in Italy, Japan and Australia. I’m interested in issues of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and am involved in a number of related committees/initiatives within UCD. My main hobbies are ceramics, cookery, reading and travel. I can be reached at extension 7706.  

Michelle Coen 

Michelle Coen: I currently work as a Career & Skills Consultant at the UCD Careers Network. I teach Career Readiness modules, facilitate workshops & events and meet students on a 1:1 basis in relation to career related topics. I completed my Bachelor of Social Science (Hons) Degree at UCD and have also completed a Postgraduate Higher Diploma in Human Resource Management. I am a qualified Life Coach and am currently completing a Postgraduate Higher Diploma in Career Education, Information and Guidance at the University of Warwick. I am keen to promote positive mental health at UCD and to support my UCD colleagues in any way I can. My extension is 7562. 

Peadar OGaora 

Peadar O'Gaora: I was born into the 1960’s diaspora, grew up in Dublin and rejoined the diaspora in the 1980’s. During my time away from Ireland I worked in the USA and UK. I am a Microbiologist by training but took a year out to study for an MSc in Computer Science when genome sequencing became feasible. I returned to Dublin to an academic position in UCD in 2004 and I am currently a staff member in the School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Sciences. I enjoy most sports as a spectator, but my physical exertions are mostly confined to cycling and occasionally playing golf poorly but enthusiastically. Other than that, for the past 20 years my wife and I have run an unpaid taxi service for 2 exclusive clients. 

Silvia Panizza 

Silvia Panizza: I am Teaching Fellow in Ethics in the School of Philosophy. Previously, I was Lecturer in Ethics at the Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia. I have also taught in Genova, Rome and Cambridge. My teaching and my research cover different areas of ethics, including meta ethics, moral psychology and animal ethics. I joined UCD in September 2019. At UEA, I used to be a member of the Animal Welfare Ethical Review Panel and I am now coordinating a network of research, teaching, and public engagement exploring how to change the way we think of, and live with, other animals. I can be reached at

Delia Pearlman

Delia Pearlman: I am currently PA to the Vice President of Research, Innovation, and Impact. I also provide secretariat support for UCD Research committees including the University Management Team subgroup, the Research and Innovation Impact Group (RIIG). Amongst my interests are cooking, gardening, health, wellbeing, and nutrition. If you wish to talk with me confidentially you can contact me on extension 4031.

Barbara Cantwell

Barbara Cantwell: I joined UCD School of Medicine in 1996 and am the Administration Manager of the Merrion Campus Team,  which incorporates St. Vincent’s University Hospital, St. Colmcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown and St. Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire. Our medical students rotate through all the clinical sites until they graduate as NCHD’s. I am involved in all aspects of their wellbeing whilst in the hospitals right up to their graduation. My main interests are golf, travel and reading.  If you wish to contact me in confidence my telephone number is:  221 4927 and my email address is:

Neil Clancy

Neil Clancy: I have been working in UCD since March 2016 within the Human Resources Department, I graduated with a BBS from University of Limerick in 2003 and I have been working in the area of Human Resources since then. Originally from Limerick I now call Dublin home, my hobbies include running, rugby hurling and dogs, I can be contacted on extension 1745.

Anne Hallinan

Anne Hallinan: I have been working in UCD for over 10 years in various professional roles. Currently I am the School Manager in UCD School of Music. My educational background is in psychotherapy and dramatherapy. I like to avail of volunteering opportunities in UCD and my neighbourhood to give back to the community and to further develop my skills. I continue to challenge my own thinking and attitude around mental health, and I have a keen interest in raising awareness on mental health issues in the workplace. My interests are: member of a gospel choir, amateur dramatics, and baking. My extension is 8178.

Mary Bushe MHFA 

Mary Bushe: I began working in UCD in 1998, as a Post Doc in Medicine & Therapeutics. I joined the Examinations Office in 2000 and have been there ever since. I have 3 sons and 7 grandchildren (5 in Oz and 2 in Ireland). I have a dog and 2 cats.  My hobbies include dancing – UCD Staff Tango. I am also a member of the UCD Community Choir. I am a Buddy for the Buddy System in Registry (providing support to new members of staff). I am described as easy going and positive. I enjoy talking with people and have a genuine interest in providing support. If you want to chat with me, in confidence, my extension is 1434.


[1] Sources of information include: Safety, Insurance, Operational Risk and Compliance (SIRC) Office, EDI Unit, HR Partner, Employee Relations, UCD Legal Office and/or the Employee Assistance Programme