The Age of Anxiety: Annual conference at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services

St Patrick’s Mental Health Services celebrate excellence in clinical practices 

anxiety spelled out by scrabble letters
Anxiety is a common issue in modern society

In honour of founder Jonathan Swift, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services launched their annual conference which this year was themed ‘The Age of Anxiety’ at St. Patrick’s University Hospital, Dublin 8, today [06.12.2019]. 

The conference explored national as well as international treatment approaches and featured academics, clinicians and practitioners. Presenters included Professor Mark Freeston from Newcastle University, Professor Helen Kennerley, co-founder of the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre and Professor Brian Fitzmaurice, postgraduate course director for Trinity college’s diploma in cognitive behavioural psychotherapy. 

Professor David Clark from the University of Oxford additionally held a plenary lecture and discussed effective psychological treatments for anxiety and the ‘Improving the Access to Psychological Therapies’ (IAPT) programme. 

Over the past 20 years, the problem has continiously become more common in Irish society with anxiety disorders, along with depression rising to the most common mental health issues in Ireland and Europe. 

While anxiety is the bodies’ and minds’ natural reaction to threat or danger, its excessive or deliberating version leads the affected to constantly worry about a possible threat and can severely impact their mental health as well as their quality of life. 

Professor Mark Freeston explained that for patients with generalised anxiety (GAD) not knowing the outcome of a situation or uncertainty in general contributes more to anxiety than the actual likelihood of a perceived threat.  

He stated during his presentation on the role of intolerance of uncertainty (IE) in the understanding and treating of anxiety, that “IE not only contributes to anxiety, but also prevents people to engage with life”. 

During the conference a recent survey conducted by St Patrick’s Mental Health Services was presented, showing that 56% of the participants are afraid of experiencing mental health difficulties in the future. These findings come just after the publishing of the My World 2 survey by Jigsaw, the the National Centre for Youth Mental Health, which revealed that 49% of Irish adolescents showed significant anxiety levels. 

Professor Helen Kennerley explained during her presentation the possible therapies in relation to anxiety and especially dissociation in detail. Dissociation can be a symptom of anxiety and relates to the disconnecting from one’s thoughts, emotions, memories or sense of identity. 

She stressed that Cognitive behavioural therapy treatments are very effective in treating these disorders, breaking the cycle connected to anxiety and uncertainty as well as supporting the affecting in building the necessary confidence to face their fears.  

Paul Gilligan, CEO or St Stephens Mental Health Services explained during the opening of the conference, that research showed that more people today contact their general practitioners concerning mental health problems like anxiety. 

The conference was mostly attended by mental health professionals and practitioners. 

St Patrick’s Mental Health Services is Ireland largest independent non-profit mental health service provider. The services are committed to the provision of high-quality mental healthcare and the development of new treatment and prevention services.  

If you or someone you know is affected by anxiety or other mental health issues, you can contact St Patrick’s Mental Health Services by calling 01-249 3333 or email info@stpatsmail.com.