Ciara O'Connor Walsh
Ciara is the Director of A Lust for Life.
Ciara has been working with the A Lust for Life team since 2017, and prior to that, has worked as a public relations and communications consultant for some of the country’s leading state agencies and organisations to produce communications campaigns and strategy on social issues ranging from housing, to the environment, to tourism, to overseas aid.
She specialised in youth communications and in designing educational programmes and experiential events for primary and secondary schools and colleges. Ciara has also spent many years working with some of Ireland’s largest non-governmental organisations, including Women’s Aid and the Irish Family Planning Association, working on organisational strategy, training, PR and communications.
Ciara has always cared deeply about our country’s mental health, having experienced mental health issues both herself, and in her friend and family circles, including losing a close family member through suicide. Ciara wrote her MA thesis on representation of mental health in the Irish Media in 2001, and has witnessed the hugely positive sea change in Irish culture around mental health over the previous two decades since.
She believes that storytelling and breaking the silence surrounding mental health is key to social change; but that this needs to be shored up by significant state investment in, and normalisation of, services for people experiencing mental health problems; as well as investment in positive mental health programmes and education, especially for young people.
Ciara is also podcast producer and self-confessed podcast and radio nerd, and most recently has been working with Niall Breslin to produce his hugely successful Where Is My Mind series, his Wake Up/Wind Down Spotify series. She was also the producer of the award-winning Where There’s A Will podcast series for A Lust for Life.
She is mammy to Ezzy and Seth (the humans) and Larry (the wheaten terrier), and lives with her husband and family in beautiful Kilkenny.
Head of Programmes
Leda is Head of Programmes in A Lust For Life.
Leda’s background is in developing and delivering educational and well-being programmes, which is underpinned by her BA in Psychology and MSc in Mental Health from Trinity College Dublin. Leda is passionate about changing Irelands’ narrative and support system around mental health, in particular for Irish young people. This has been at the backbone of her educational and working career after losing a close family member through suicide. Leda has made it her mission is to empower young people to mind their mental health, to break down the barriers of stigma that surrounds mental health and to create a more welcoming society that acknowledges and supports other people’s challenges.
Dr. Eddie Murphy
Psychological Content Lead
Dr. Eddie Murphy Clinical Psychologist, Mental Health Advocate, Author & Adjunct Associate Professor, UCD School of Psychology. Dr Murphy is married to Carol and has two boys Oisin (12) & Darragh (10). Passionate about solutions for children’s wellbeing, emotional resilience and mental health, Dr Murphy is the Principal Psychological Author of the A Lust For Life Schools Wellbeing Programme. A former board member of A Lust For Life, he is a Mental Health Advisor and on the evaluation team of the Schools Wellbeing Programme. As a practicing clinical psychologist he is acutely aware children’s wellbeing and the need for proactive approaches. He is probably better known to you from his TV work where his practical, respectful and hope orientated approach has a strong solution focus. His passion and enthusiasm about wellbeing is anchored in evidenced based psychology and this evidence base informs the Schools Wellbeing Programme.
Dr. Victoria Harris
Creativity & Psychological Content Consultant
Dr. Victoria Harris is a Humanistic & Integrative psychotherapist in private practice who specializes in using creative techniques for emotional healing. Dr. Harris has trained in child psychotherapy and play therapy and researched the use of creative techniques in psychotherapy. She works with children, adolescents, and adults. Dr. Harris has two children (Theo & Cara) and is a trained yoga teacher. She is also a children’s middle-grade fantasy author, with a focus on using the power of metaphor to promote resilience. Dr. Harris believes strongly in early intervention and using creativity as a tool for healing. She enjoys spending time in nature, especially in West Cork, Ireland. It is here surrounded by the rugged beauty of the landscape and the local folklore that she finds the inspiration for her books.
Co-Founder and IT
Pritesh is a co-founder of A Lust for Life and provides IT services to the organisation. Pritesh has a deep passion for technology and mental health and strongly believes in the mission behind A Lust For Life. He decided over 12 years ago to walk away from a successful career in banking and start a web design company where he could further build on his passion for technology. He has worked with many companies throughout various sectors to deliver bespoke solutions using unique programming skills along with a great eye for aesthetics and has contributed to many satisfied clients and a successful business over this period. Pritesh later expanded the business to include sports and personality management for a number of high profile athletes in the lead up to the Olympic Games. Pritesh’s insight into digital media strategy has been a key factor to successful sponsorship deals and is driven to deliver content which is engaging. Pritesh is working on developing further projects and products for both web based and mobile platforms.
Educational Content Lead
Real Nation was founded in 2000 by former teacher Aidine O’Reilly (B.A., H.Dip, M.Ed). Over the past 20 years, Real Nation has evolved to become an award-winning specialist Educational and Behavioural Change agency employing nearly 50 staff. Some of Real Nation’s projects include Food Dudes (Bord Bia), SuperTroopers (Laya Healthcare), AIB Future Sparks, SEAI One Good Idea, Our Word Irish Aid Awards, to name a few. Real Nation work with psychologists, educators, and project managers who specialise in key areas across four departments – Education, Experiential, Events and Design to service and support our campaigns and initiates.
A Dublin born and based film production company who focus on the exploration of the human condition through the lens of music, travel, food and the untold story.
Steering Committee Chair, CEO And Founder vStream
Serial Entrepreneur Andrew Jenkinson is Director and Co-founder of Interactive experience company vStream, and XR experience specialists vStream Health. Andrew holds a BSc in Computer Applications from DCU and a Masters in Innovation & Technology Management from The Smurfit School of Business. Prior to founding The vStream Group of companies with childhood friend Niall O’Driscoll, Andrew was a founding member of Irish software startup SteelTrace which was acquired by US Multinational Compuware for $20M in 2006. Andrew has received significant award recognition including Internet Marketer of the year, Entrepreneur of the year (European Business Awards) and Irish Times Innovation Awards. Andrew is a keen musician, father of 3, and loves anything with an engine!
Charity Co-Founder & Acting CEO A Lust For Life
Paula is the Charity Co-Founder, Chair and acting CEO of A Lust for Life. Paula began her career in London working in financial management with Marks & Spencer plc., having graduated from UCD with a BSoc Sc and MEcon Sc. As a Senior Executive/Partner with Accenture plc., she led complex, global transformation & outsourcing programmes. Paula went on to become COO of The Work Foundation, a UK ‘think tank’ focused on the future of work and the knowledge economy. As an independent consultant in the UK and Ireland, Paula has worked in senior interim strategic planning/transformational leadership roles, e.g., as interim Global Director of Programmes for Clarks and interim Global Head of Solutions for Mind Gym. In parallel to her role at A Lust for Life, Paula continues to work on client engagements with EY Ireland, as part of their Advisory practice.
Co-Founder & Creative Director A Lust For Life
One of Ireland’s most prominent mental health advocates, Niall is Co-Founder and Creative Director of A Lust for Life.
He has produced and written several documentaries about mental health and performance psychology and has worked closely with government and the EU parliament to further influence the discussion on and development of future policy in mental health and wellbeing.
With a degree in Economics and Sociology from University College Dublin, a Higher Certificate in Performance Psychology from IADT and a Masters in Mindfulness Based Interventions from the School of Psychology in UCD, Niall continues to extend his work further internationally. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and IADT.
A former Gaelic footballer and Leinster rugby player, Niall is also a musician, multi-platinum selling song writer, music producer, public speaker and documentary maker. He is author of the bestseller “Me and my mate Jeffrey” (which he wrote about his journey with his mental health) in addition to more recent children’s books ‘Magic Moment’ and ‘Take Five’ which centre on using identifiable stories and characters to provide mindfulness tools to young children.
Niall has also recently launched ‘Where Is My Mind’, a new podcast series which talks about the impact our society has on us – and how we can deal with it through mindfulness practice and meditation.
Aidine O Reilly, M.Ed
CEO and Founder Real Nation
Real Nation was founded in 2000 by former teacher Aidine O’Reilly (B.A., H.Dip, M.Ed). Over the past 20 years, Real Nation has evolved to become an award-winning specialist Educational and Behavioural Change agency employing nearly 50 staff. Real Nation work with psychologists, educators, and project managers who specialise in key areas across four departments Education, Experiential, Events & Design to service and support our campaigns and initiates. Aidine’s primary role is strategy, creation and quality control on educational programmes and projects across Real Nation’s largest dept. – Education. This department is responsible for devising and managing educational initiatives in the areas of; Health, Environment, Business & Technology, Arts & Humanities, and has reached over 7.8million teachers and students in the past 20 years. Some of Real Nation’s projects include Food Dudes (Bord Bia), SuperTroopers (Laya Healthcare), AIB Future Sparks, SEAI One Good Idea, Our Word Irish Aid Awards, to name a few.
CEO National Parents Council (Steering Committee Guest)
Áine started her career as a trainee accountant, then changed direction and qualified as a general and paediatric nurse. After a number of years in nursing she went back to fulltime education where she completed an honours degree in Behavioural Sciences. Áine worked for two years in the area of child psychiatry following which she went on to work for the ISPCC as the Childline Manager and the Director of Services. In August 2007 Aine was appointed CEO of the National Parents Council Primary (NPC).
Áine was appointed to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) by the Minister for Education and Skills; served on the Board of the Children’s Rights Alliance and was appointed to the Teaching Council in April 2016 and served on the first fitness-to-teach hearing panel.
Áine has served on a number of Department of Education and Skill’s committees, is a member of the National Advisory Council for Online Safety and represents NPC on the European Parents’ Association. In December 2017 Áine was awarded a Masters in Executive Leadership by the University of Ulster.
Áine believes all decisions in schools should be child centred and that this will be best achieved by fostering positive relationships between parents and schools, and by ensuring the voice of the child is included. In 2018, Áine oversaw the expansion of NPC’s remit into providing services and support for parents of children in the early years’ education.
Assistant Professor in Child/Adolescent Learning & Development, Wellbeing and SPHE, Dublin City University
Darina holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Trinity College, Dublin. Her doctoral research was focused on the development of childhood anxiety. Upon completion of her studies in 2014, she took up a post at the Educational Research Centre, Drumcondra, where she worked on various national research projects, such as the evaluation of the DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) Programme. In 2016, she joined DCU’s Institute of Education (IoE) as a Postdoctoral Researcher in Assessment, and in 2019, she was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the IoE’s School of Human Development. She lectures in Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and quantitative research methods on the B.Ed., M.Ed., and PME teacher education programmes and her research interests include child development, wellbeing, and the assessment & measurement of complex competencies.
Educational, curriculum & social inclusion consultant
Mella works as a consultant with a range of government agencies and institutions, not-for-profit organizations, and school networks, advising, designing, and evaluating curriculum interventions in primary, secondary and third level education. She was a member of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) senior cycle Board of Studies for Arts and Humanities which oversaw the development of senior cycle Politics and Society; and, chair of the NCCA’s junior cycle History Development Group. She was the commissioned writer of the NCCA’s 100-hour Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE) short course, and the NCCA’s 2018 Study of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) curriculum opportunities from early childhood to senior cycle. Mella works with the Department of Foreign Affairs (Irish Aid) on the production of curriculum materials, including WorldWise Global Schools post-primary ‘Doing Development Education’ series of resources and, the curriculum materials for the annual primary Our World Irish Aid Awards. Mella lectures in the National College of Art and Design and in DCU’s Institute of Education, delivering modules on Curriculum, Wellbeing and CSPE, and Politics and Society in PME (post-primary) and B.Ed (primary) teacher education programmes.
Dr Tom Burke
Tom is a chartered Clinical Psychologist with the Psychological Society of Ireland. He completed his professional doctorate in Clinical Psychology at University College Dublin (UCD), after completing a research PhD in the area of cognitive neuropsychology. Tom has worked across a number of clinical settings with both children and adults e.g., Child and Adult Mental Health Services; Primary Care; and Disability Services (on the 0-18 team). He is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland investigating psychotic experiences in adolescents, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at University College Dublin investigating the effectiveness and efficacy of remote psychological interventions.