Mary Butler

Mary Butler is Minister of State at the Department of Health with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People. She is a TD representing the Waterford Constituency. Mary served as a Councillor having won a seat in the 2014 Local elections in the Comeragh area before contesting the 2016 General Election after securing the Fianna Fáil nomination for Waterford. She also had the honour of being the first female Fianna Fáil TD to be elected for the party since 2007. In the 2020 General Election, Mary was delighted to be re-elected to continue her work representing the people of Waterford City and County. Her twitter handle is @marybutlertd

Professor Sinead McGilloway

PhD, CPsychol, CSci, AFBPS

Professor Sinéad McGilloway is a Family and Community Mental Health psychologist and Founder Director of the Centre for Mental Health and Community Research in the Maynooth University Dept of Psychology and Social Sciences Institute ( ). She is a Chartered Psychologist and Chartered Scientist with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and an Associate Fellow of the BPS. She has extensive experience in undertaking engaged policy- and practice-relevant research with a focus on child and adult mental health and well-being (incl. vulnerable/ marginalised groups), early intervention/prevention and service evaluation. She has won significant research funding to date, is widely published (>300 publications) and is leading/supervising a number of interdisciplinary and engaged research programmes/projects supported by national and international funders. Professor McGilloway was the recipient of the Maynooth University Faculty of Social Sciences Research Achievement Award 2021.

Tony McCusker

Tony McCusker is a registered social worker who has worked as a mental health social worker, senior social worker and mental health services manager in the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland. He was involved in implementing the initial ‘Think Family’ pilot project with Mary Donaghy and Dr. Adrian Falkov. Tony then spent six years as Principal Social Worker with the HSE Adult Safeguarding Service and is currently General Manager with the HSE National Mental Health Community Operations office.

Dr Mairead Furlong

Coordinator of the PRIMERA research programme and Centre Leader @Centre for Mental Health and Community Research in Maynooth University

Dr Mairead Furlong is a qualified Counselling Psychologist and her research involves working with the statutory and community/voluntary sectors to co-develop, implement and evaluate interventions to improve mental health outcomes of vulnerable children and families. To date, her research involves working with: children whose parent(s) have mental illness and addiction; maltreated children; children and mothers recovering from domestic violence/abuse, and children with emotional, behavioural and learning problems. Her research is widely published and cited in scientific journals and national and international policy documents.

Rose Cuff

Occupational Therapist

Rose Cuff is a parent, grandparent and Occupational Therapist who has worked in child, adolescent and adult mental health, and community-based services since 1987. Since 1995, she has focussed entirely on working to support children and families where a parent or carer has mental health challenges, through direct clinical practice, developing and implementing peer support programmes, co-producing a wide range of resources, publishing widely, and conducting training and research. Rose was the State-wide Coordinator of the Victorian government-funded FaPMI (Families where a Parent has a Mental Illness) programme from its inception in 2007 until 2020, and she is currently the CEO and co-founder of the Satellite Foundation.

Mary Donaghy

Mary Donaghy is a qualified Social Worker since 1983. Over the past 35 years, her experience has been in Family and Child Care (Residential & Fieldwork), Children’s Disability, and Child & Adolescent Mental Health. Before she retired, she worked in the Social Care Directorate of the Health & Social Care Board (HSCB) in Northern Ireland (NI). From 2009–2012, Mary was seconded as a Senior Manager from South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust to the HSCB to lead on the Regional ’Think Child, Think Parent, Think Family’ project across Adult Mental Health and Children’s Services. Northern Ireland was one of six national Think Family projects carried out under the direction of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) in the UK.

Professor Joanne Nicholson


Joanne Nicholson, PhD., is a clinical and research psychologist with over 30 years of experience working with parents with mental illnesses, co-occurring substance use, and their families. She has an active program of research on parents and their children, in partnership with people in recovery. She and her collaborators have developed and tested education and training programs and materials for parents, including the Parenting Well initiative. Nicholson and colleagues published the first guide for parents living with mental illness written by parents, Parenting Well When You’re Depressed and a guide for professionals written by professionals, Creating Options for Family Recovery: A Provider’s Guide to Promoting Parental Mental Health. She has published over 150 papers and original articles in professional journals and edited volumes, provided interviews for newspapers, magazines, and radio in the U.S. and other countries.

Gary Sullivan

Gary Sullivan is a 39 (turning 40 in July) year old Dad to his 14-year-old son, Gary Óg.  Gary is a keen artist with a flair for animation in particular.  Spending time in nature – walking, hiking etc – is Gary’s way of grounding himself and relaxing.  Attending Family Talk in 2019 has benefitted Gary and Gary Óg in a profoundly positive way.


Laura is a mother of two. She is a fitness and yoga instructor with a special interest in mindfulness, meditation and finding the balance for overall wellness. Her eldest Emily, is 12 years old, likes rollerblading, skating, parkour and drawing

Mary G Killion

Mary G Killion is a Principal Social Worker in Galway/Roscommon Adult Mental Health Services. She has been promoting family-focused practice in mental health services since 2005, when she co-ordinated an interagency service imitative known as Crosslinx, to address the impact of parental mental illness on families. Since 2018, she has led out on the embedding of Family Talk as an evidence-based intervention in Galway/Roscommon mental health services. She has recently co-authored a document on promoting family-focused practice in adult mental health care.

Fiona Coyle

B.Soc.Sc, MSc Mental Health, CQSW

Fiona Coyle has worked as a Social Worker and Psychotherapist for over 30 years. She is currently working as a Principal Social Worker in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Trained as a mental health social worker she has worked in children’s residential care settings, Child Protection Services, Adult Mental Health Services and CAMHS both in Ireland and abroad and has extensive experience working with trauma, attachment issues and the impact of transgenerational trauma.
From 2002 to 2018 Fiona was involved in the development, implementation and evaluation of an inter-agency project, Crosslinx, which was established in Co. Meath to address the needs of families where a parent has mental health difficulties, with a view to providing an Integrated Multi-disciplinary Family focused Mental Health Service. Fiona’s MSc research explored parenting experiences for mothers with mental health difficulties.

Jason Leavy

Jason Leavy is a Sociology graduate of NUI Maynooth (BA Hons) and the Project Leader in Loughrea – Gort Family Services with the Child and Family Agency Tusla. He manages a team made up of social care staff and youth workers who work with children and families in a community setting. Prior to this Jason was the Family Welfare Conference Co-ordinator in Galway City and County. Jason saw Family Talk as an opportunity for professionals working with children, and professionals working with adults, to come together and firmly believes that good things happen when people come together.

Niamh Murphy

Niamh Murphy graduated from University College Dublin in 2004 with an undergraduate degree in Social Science and began her working career in residential care. Niamh completed uer Masters in Social Work in 2004, in University of College Cork. After qualifying, Niamh achieved a social worker permanent post in TUSLA where worked with Children in Care, Fostering and in Child Protection and Welfare.
Her move to Child and Adolescent Mental Health services came at the beginning of 2014 providing social work resources to a multi-disciplinary team caring for young people who present with moderate to severe mental health difficulties. Niamh also provides DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) to young people and their parents where a child meets the criteria for high risk of self-harm and suicide.
Niamh welcomed and promoted the Family Based Intervention Family Talk to Linn Dara CAMHS as the intervention matched her skills and the setting of CAMHS providing the opportunity for collaborative work with young people and their parent(s) where a parent themselves can have a mental health difficulty.

Sinead Mc Dermott

Sinead Mc Dermott is one the first family peer support workers in Ireland. She has studied family peer support in Ireland and Internationally. Having lived experience of supporting a family member- Sinead provides peer support to family members attending the services. She is passionate about the involvement of family members in their relatives care and treatment. She has coproduced many projects including a Directory of Services, A booklet for Family members navigating the mental health services and a Mental Health and Wellbeing app for the county. Sinead is currently working one to one with family members around Roscommon/East Galway supporting them in their family recovery.

Shireen O’Neill

Shireen O’Neill is a Social Worker in Adult Mental Health Services where she has worked for the last 9 years. She is a trained Behavioural Family Therapist offering service users experiencing psychosis, and their families, a family-based intervention focusing on communication skills, psychoeducation and relapse prevention. She is also a trained Dialectical Behavioural Therapist offering service users diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, an evidence-based therapeutic intervention. Shireen has a special interest in Family Talk and the impact of parental mental illness. When searching for support for children online some years ago, she came across the COPMI website which is an Australian service for children of parents with mental illness – where she first discovered William Beardslee’s Family Talk intervention. Shireen has pioneered this evidence-based family intervention in community teams in the Louth/Meath mental health service.

Christine Mulligan

Christine Mulligan is a Doctoral Fellow on the PRIMERA research programme and her PhD centres on a process evaluation of the Family Talk intervention (Principal Supervisor, Professor Sinéad McGilloway and Co-Supervisor, Dr Mairead Furlong). Christine completed her BA (Hons) degree in Psychology at Maynooth in 2017, achieving a First Class Honours and second place in her year. She has a Certificate in Social Studies and a COSCA accredited diploma in Counselling. She also has many years’ experience of working with NGOs and in the commercial and public sectors.

Sharon McGarr

Sharon McGarr works as Fieldwork Co-Ordinator on the PRIMERA research team. She has interests in family mental health, child development and wellbeing, Adverse Childhood Experiences, parenting, prevention and early intervention, service development/evaluation and restorative practice. She is also a qualified Mediation Consultant/ Restorative Practitioner.

Colm McGuinness

PhD, CIMA, CStat

Colm McGuinness  is a Lecturer in Mathematics and Statistics at TU Dublin, Blanchardstown campus. He has a PhD in mathematical science from DCU (1999) and is a Chartered Statistician registered with the Royal Statistical Society ( Colm acted as Statistical Consultant for the RCT that was conducted as part of the PRIMERA research programme. He is Director of Statistical Support for PEEI ( where he has co-supervised a number of PhDs to completion, and is currently co-supervising several PhD candidates. He has a general interest in the application of statistics to social science and educational settings. He is co-lead in a mindfulness project on the Blanchardstown campus, assessing the impact of mindfulness for students as they progress through college.

Siobhan O’Connor

Siobhan O’Connor worked with the Centre for Mental Health and Community Research from 2015-2021 on the ENRICH programme, the SALaM Ireland Study and as a fieldworker on the PRIMERA programme. She has over 7 years experience working in the area of child and family health and well-being. She holds a BA in Psychology, MSc in Health Psychology and was awarded a PhD in Psychology in 2021. Her PhD research explored the process of disseminating research evidence relating to child and family services and policy. Siobhan currently works as the Research & Evaluation Coordinator with Jigsaw.

Dr Nuala Whelan

Dr Nuala Whelan is a practising Chartered Psychologist, and an Associate Lecturer and researcher in the Departments of Psychology, Sociology, and Adult & Community Education at Maynooth University. She provided consultancy expertise in the conduct of the Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) that was conducted as part of the PRIMERA research programme. Nuala has over 20 years’ practitioner academic experience working with community-based services, developing tools, approaches and interventions which aim to enable people experiencing poverty and unemployment access meaningful and sustainable work, and improve their well-being and quality of life. She specialises in employability and careers, psychometrics, service effectiveness, policy implementation, engaged research, and the potential value of enhancing human capacity for personal, organisational and societal impact. Her current research involves mapping a public employment ecosystem in Ireland and designing an employment guidance tool-kit and metric for practitioners working with those most distant from the labour market.