The Health Research Board, as part of the HRB RED ALERT: TABOO! series, presents a public conversation which will look at breaking the stigma of mental health.

What are the key issues around mental health in Ireland right now? What areas of mental health are still taboo and what is the impact of this? What can we do to break the stigma and open up the conversation around these issues? 

In the next installment of the TABOO! series, we will look at current research on the mental health difficulties affecting young people today, discuss how prejudice, stigma and discrimination around mental health can be alleviated by speaking openly about personal experiences and examine how artistic projects are opening up the conversation. 

Broadcaster Dil Wickremasinghe will host a panel featuring JP Swaine, co-founder and director of First Fortnight festival, Helen Coughlan, Clinical Research Fellow with the Department of Psychiatry at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Irish artists Maser and Joe Caslin.


Dil Wickremasinghe is the co-founder and training & development director of Insight Matters, a psychotherapy, counselling & mental health support service. She is also a social justice & mental health broadcaster and journalist with Newstalk 106-108, with whom she presents her weekly award winning programme, Global Village. In addition, Dil is also a regular contributor on RTE, TV3 and print media and is an activist and campaigner for equal rights, serving voluntarily on the boards of numerous NGO’s. She is a passionate Mental Health Ambassador for One in Four, Suicide or Survive and See Change and shares her own story of recovery to break down stigma around mental health.

JP Swaine is a mental health activist and practitioner and co-founder and Director of First Fortnight, a charity-based organisation with the express aim of challenging mental health prejudice through the creative arts. Through its two-week arts festival, First Fortnight aims to help change people’s perceptions about issues that affect us all and make the first fortnight of each year synonymous with mental health awareness, challenging prejudice and ending stigma. Founded in 2009, the charity has since become a mental health service provider with the establishment in 2013 of the First Fortnight Centre for Creative Therapies which currently employs two psychotherapists providing art-therapy for individuals experiencing homelessness and mental ill-health in Dublin.

Maser is an Irish born artist well known for his graffiti work throughout Dublin city. His large scale mural work and collaborations with artists such as Damien Dempsey, JR, Conor Harrington and Fintan Magee have won him notoriety not only in the graffiti world, but also have helped establish him in the contemporary art world. Most recently, Maser has worked on a number of large scale installation projects both in Dublin and internationally and was one of 11 selected artists invited to produce a film to accompany the songs on U2’s 13th studio album ‘Songs of Innocence’. His work has been a prominent feature in the First Fortnight programme in past years.

Joe Caslin is a street artist, illustrator and secondary school art teacher from Roscommon. He was the recipient of the Association of Illustration award for New Talent in Public Realm Illustration 2013 and is represented in collections both nationally and internationally with a recent exhibition of drawing, film and print at London’s prestigious Somerset House. Rather than leaving current societal needs to government, with his current project entitled ‘Our Nation’s Sons’ he aims persuade entire communities to address the very real problem of young male apathy and mental wellbeing, and over the past eighteen months he has initiated a pioneering new way of focusing Ireland’s urgent need for action to support this group. 

Helen Coughlan is a social worker by profession and has extensive clinical and academic experience across the public, private and NGO sectors. Helen has held a position as lecturer in social work with the School of Social Work and Social Policy in Trinity College Dublin, where she continues to provide adjunct lecturing on the area of youth mental health, and as Training and Development Coordinator with Headstrong, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health. Helen currently works as a Clinical Research Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, conducting research on mental health difficulties among adolescents and young adults in Ireland. She held the position of Chairperson of the ACAMH Special Interest Group in Youth Mental Health from 2012-2015 and is actively involved in the youth mental health movement at both a national and international level. She was the lead writer of the International Declaration on Youth Mental Health, regularly speaks on the issue of mental health and has been involved in briefing government Ministers and other officials on mental health research and policy in Ireland.

Image by Maser (cropped for this purpose)


Paccar Theatre
Free - please register