Dr Donal O’Keeffe

Donal is a psychologist, educator, and researcher as well as a person with lived experience of using mental health services (as a service user and a carer). He has over 15 years’ experience in the mental health field and has led many initiatives that have enhanced mental health recovery and health promotion in Ireland. Examples include supported socialisation, mental illness self-management, and nature-based interventions.

In his work with ARCHES Recovery College, Donal uses participatory and co-design principles to develop and deliver our theoretically grounded and evidence informed Recovery Education programme. He views mental health as a human right and is passionate about driving mental health service reform so that service user, family member, carer, and supporter perspectives are prioritised. Donal advocates for a value based mental health system centred on justice, equality, respect, compassion, and empowerment.

Donal received his PhD in Meaning in Life in mental health recovery from Trinity College Dublin and sits on the Editorial Board of the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine. His research on recovery is widely published in peer reviewed journals. You can read some of it here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Donal-Okeeffe

Areas of expertise: Psychology, the Recovery Approach, public and patient involvement in research, Meaning in Life, curriculum design.

Peter Byrne

Peter is an educator and researcher with qualifications in mental health and wellbeing coaching, mechanical engineering, and mathematics. In ARCHES Recovery College, he supervises our team of Recovery Education Facilitators and leads the coproduction and cofacilitation of our programmes. Peter has a passion for using adult education principles as he feels this approach to working with people best draws out their knowledge, strengths, and talents.

Peter is focused on, and enthusiastic about, all Recovery Education including understanding recovery through the CHIME framework, promoting advocacy and empowerment, developing a personal recovery narrative, and supporting people to navigate the mental health services.

Additionally, Peter has been practicing Mindfulness for five years now.  He values breath awareness, body scans, and gratitude and kindness practices. Peter believes mindfulness can support people in recovery by introducing calmness, bringing awareness, and enhancing appreciation for life.

Areas of expertise: coproduction, resilience, care planning, anxiety, depression, stress management, mental health and wellbeing coaching, facilitation skills, Healthy Food Made Easy, Wellness Recovery Action Planning.

Cathy Doyle

Cathy spent many years working in the Community Arts sector with a variety of organisations such as Signal Art Centre, CYC, Dun Laoghaire Youth Arts Office, Dry Rain Youth Theatre, and the Knitting and Stitching Show. She spent 15 years running projects and workshops for children, youth, and women’s groups while exhibiting her own artwork also. A major episode with her mental health shut down normal life for many years including any interest in creative work. Through her own recovery journey with the support of mental health services, Cathy found her love of colour again and went on to share those skills and processes with others on their recovery journey. Cathy went on to do a variety of training and joined the ARCHES Team as a Recovery Education Facilitator in 2020. Cathy led the coproduction team who developed the incredibly popular set of Recovery Education courses: Recovery In Colour. It supports people in the process of recovery by using creativitity. People to use ‘art journaling’ (creating a personal visual journal, painting, drawing, colour and collage), to explore the meaning of recovery, self-care and to help articulate future plans and ambitions. Areas of expertise: creativity and mental health recovery, Trauma Informed Care, traveller mental health, graphic design.

Denis Kennedy

In ARCHES, Denis is responsible for co-delivering courses, helping to coordinate our coproduction programme, supervising the ARCHES team, and directing Recovery Education programme delivery. He has an educational background working as a lecturer for various colleges and universities in Ireland and has taught on different courses including supporting people with mental illness, social care, and disability. Denis has lived experience of mental health challenges and has a special interest in the models of mental health and how people live with, manage, challenge, and overcome mental health stigma. He is currently leading a coproduction group to develop a Recovery Education course for people with mental health difficulties and their families, aimed at helping them understand and respond to stigma in their lives.

Areas of expertise: psychiatric stigma, disability rights, learning design, human rights.

Isabelle Gauthier

Isabelle is a Recovery Education Facilitator with ARCHES and a Hearing Voices Facilitator with HAIL (Housing Association for Integrated Living). She also has an interest and qualifications in film-making. Isabelle comes from France and has been living in Ireland for the last 26 years.

A few years ago, she experienced a mental health crisis. Ever since then, she has dedicated her life to Recovery. Thanks to WRAP and ARCHES Recovery College courses, community and ethos, she knows that recovery is possible. Recovery in Colour is her favourite course as it helped her find her voice again.

She originally volunteered with ARCHES, co-facilitating the Creative Café with Lisa Richardson. She is delighted to have recently joined the ARCHES team. She finds hope in education and is passionate about self-advocacy and challenging stigma.

Areas of expertise: creativity and mental health recovery, advocacy, empowerment, psychiatric stigma, Hearing Voices groups, Wellness Recovery Action Planning.

Lisa Richardson

Lisa is a Recovery Education Facilitator with ARCHES Recovery College. She has a passion for craft of any kind. She achieved distinctions in both QQI Level 5 Art, Craft, and Design and QQI Level 6 Creative Textiles in the College of Further Education Dundrum. She loves sewing, knitting, embroidery and has recently been learning crochet. Along with crafting she adores animals and has a cat and a puppy.

Lisa was introduced to ARCHES Recovery College while she was a service user in Churchtown. At ARCHES, she learnt recovery in mental health is possible. Lisa took part in many of the courses online and in person. She describes the support she received at ARCHES as ‘incredible’. Lisa qualified in both QQI Level 6 Group Facilitation and Wellness Recovery Action Planning Facilitation.

After working hard on her own recovery, Lisa volunteered with ARCHES in the Creative Café. An opportunity came where there was a facilitator post vacant and she went for interview and got the post. Lisa feels this is her time to give back to ARCHES and help others back on the road to recovery too. 

Areas of expertise: creativity and mental health recovery, textiles, personal narrative, Wellness Recovery Action Planning.