‘Supporting Success through Wellbeing in Higher Education’

HEA Wellbeing Conference April 20th, 2023

The Higher Education Authority held the first health and wellbeing conference for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) on April 20th. In 2020 the HEA launched the National Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Framework. In 2021 the HEA took over the implementation of the Higher Education Healthy Campus Charter and Framework across HEIs. The Conference marked an important step in the progression of health and wellbeing across the sector

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS), Simon Harris TD on 20th April 2023 delivered the opening address at Ireland’s first national wellbeing conference for higher education, ‘Supporting Success through Wellbeing in Higher Education’ hosted by the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

Minister Harris said:

I am delighted to open the Ireland’s first national wellbeing conference for higher education, marking an important collaboration between the Higher Education Authority and Healthy Ireland. The conference builds on the work being done across the sector to support students as they navigate their way through their third level experience.

This conference gives us an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made but also on the challenges that lay ahead. We have made important interventions in the area of mental health and eradicating sexual violence and harassment but there are areas where we need to do more. Today gives us the chance to hear from students and staff about where the challenges are and about how we can set about make improvements together.

The conference aimed to highlight the importance of embedding support for student and staff wellbeing into the work of our higher education institutions (HEIs) as a key enabler to successful outcomes for those engaged in higher education. This included highlighting the the powerful role institutional leadership has in ensuring the delivery of that support, health promotion in the setting of higher education and showcasing examples of good practice across the sector.

Over 100 people attended the event including staff and student representatives from public and private higher education institutions, as well as colleagues from the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive and the Department of Further and Higher Education Research, Innovation and Science. External stakeholders included the National Office for Suicide Prevention, the HSE and the National Suicide Research Foundation.

Conference Schedule 2023 

Keynote Speakers

Two keynote speakers included:

‘Study conditions and mental health in higher education in Germany – Implications for healthy campus initiatives’

Prof. Christiane Stock, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin


‘A Mental Health Promotion Approach to Wellbeing in Higher Education’

Prof. Margaret Barry, University of Galway

‘Celebration’ - Healthy Campus Case Studies

Over 23 case studies from institutions were displayed at the conference, covering a range of topics from mental health, staff wellbeing, research, and whole university approaches.

Case Study Presentations

We had three institutions present their submitted case studies.

Other case studies submitted and showcased on the day from:

Atlantic Technological University, College of Computing Technology Dublin (CCT), Dublin City University, Institute of Art, Design + Technology, Dún Laoghaire, Munster Technological University, Open Training College, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, Technological University Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin, University of Limerick, University of Galway 

Mental Health Projects

A number of mental health projects were launched and presented on including:

  • ‘NSRF and Higher Education: Addressing Actions from Connecting for Life’ – Grace Phillips, National Suicide Research Foundation
  • ‘Action Development Café’ – John Hannon and Prof. Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, University of Galway
  • ‘Identify and Respond’– Treasa Fox, PCHEI & Technological University of the Shannon and Prof. Barbara Dooley, University College Dublin

Panel Discussion - 'Student Voice and a Whole Campus Approach to Wellbeing'

For the final part of the day, we held a panel discussion on Student Voice and a Whole Campus Approach to Wellbeing’.

Panel members included:

Hannah Kelly, Programme Manager, NStEP (National Student Engagement Programme); Kelda McManus, VP Welfare, Munster Technological University Students Union; Sarah Kennedy, Healthy UL Coordinator, University of Limerick and Sarah Hughes, Mental Health Programme Manager, Union of Students in Ireland

Eurostudent 8 Irish Report Launch

The Eurostudent 8 Irish Report was officially launched at the conference with a presentation from Valarie Harvey, Head of Performance Evaluation at the HEA.


Sector Updates

We also had updates from the Director of HECA (The Higher Education Colleges Association) Patricia O’Sullivan on their work under Healthy Campus. Suzanne Walker HEA, gave us updates on her work on the progression of the Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment Framework across the sector.

Presentation Slides

Please find a list of presentation slides:

  • Opening Comments, Biddy O’Neill, National Project Lead in Healthy Ireland, Department of Health, click here
  • ‘Study conditions and mental health in higher education in Germany – Implications for healthy campus initiatives’ Prof. Christiane Stock, click here
  • ‘A Mental Health Promotion Approach to Wellbeing in Higher Education’, Prof. Margaret Barry, click here
  • What does a healthy campus look like?’ , ATU, click here
  • ‘A Healthy MTU’, A Mixed Methods Baseline Needs Analysis to Empirically Inform a Campus Health Promotion Initiative within an Irish Higher Education Setting’ ,MTU, click here
  • Lifestyle Medicine’ , RCSI, click here
  • Eurostudent 8 Report Launch, click here
Conference posters

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