UK (Ulster University) World-leading international digital mental health and wellbeing conference hosted at Ulster University

Ulster University, supported by the MENHIR research project and the HSC Public Health Agency’s R&D Division project, hosted the inaugural international digital mental health and wellbeing conference from 21 – 23 June at the university’s Belfast Campus.

As traditional mental health services are under pressure, there is a need to investigate the use of digital technologies to support the wellbeing of people. This conference was world-leading in terms of discussing the emerging digital mental health inventions available such as chatbots, virtual reality or augmented reality tools, and how these can support or help reduce waiting times for those requiring treatment.

Professor Maurice Mulvenna commented:

“Ulster University was proud to host the inaugural international digital mental health and wellbeing conference supported by the MENHIR research project and the Public Health Agency. It was a hugely successful event with keynote speakers from around the world providing valuable insights into how these tools are impacting positively in their local communities.

A key takeaway has been the realisation across the sector that digital transformation is coming and it is going to effect everyone. The third sector is transitioning already within our local communities, for example with the Department of Health’s NI Digital Mental Health Forum, Inspire Wellbeing Hub and Action Mental Health’s digital transformation Knowledge Transfer Programme project with Ulster University.”

The programme of events kicked off with a free online public session with over 60 attendees discussing digital mental health areas of interest in Northern Ireland. The debate included understanding the risks, opportunities, and benefits of digital mental health while providing an inclusive and accessible platform to have open dialogue with the intended users and stakeholders.

There were 120 key industry stakeholders having attended the main conference including representatives from University of Oxford, ORCHA Sci-Tech, Harvard Medical School, Jigsaw National Centre for Youth Mental Health and Northern Health and Social Care Trust. The conference featured keynote speakers and talks from leading academic researchers and service providers such as world-renowned Harvard academic, Professor John Torous. A range of topical themes were explored such as virtual reality and gaming, child, youth and student mental health and social media reporting.

Dr Paul Best, Queen;s University and NI Digital Mental Health Forum co-lead commented :

“This inaugural Digital Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference at Ulster University provided a great opportunity to hear from international and local experts regarding the current digital mental health landscape. As we begin to develop the vision for digital mental health services in Northern Ireland, this annual conference will play a key role in connecting practitioners, service providers and policy makers to the latest emerging evidence in the field.”

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19-21 June 2024 – Second International Digital Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference

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Pictured (L-R): four keynote speakers from the Inaugural International Digital Mental Health and Wellbeing conference: Professor Zoraida Callejas, University of Granada; Dr Gavin Doherty, Trinity College Dublin; John Torous MD, Harvard Medical School; Professor Ciara McCabe, Reading University