The Role

The overarching aim of the Mental Health Champion Office is to advise and assist in the promotion of mental health and wellbeing though all policies and services, throughout the province. 

This position is empowered by the NI Executive who have overwhelmingly supported this initiative. The Executive are fully committed to improving the mental health of the population and ensuring that our mental health services are effective. In recognition of this commitment, funding for the role has been secured on an inter-departmental basis.

The purpose of the Mental Health Champion is to further the mental health agenda across all platforms and fora, to promote emotional health and wellbeing, access to evidence-based support and services, and recovery.

The Mental Health Champion will engage with people with lived experience, community groups and professional groups. The Champion will be a focal point for the discussion around wellbeing, mental health and suicide. They will take part in the public debate around psychological wellbeing, mental health and suicide, and will champion these issues to improve the experience of people with mental ill health.


The Interim Mental Health Champion is Siobhan O’Neill, Professor of Mental Health Sciences, Ulster University.

The key themes for Siobhan’s term as Interim Mental Health Champion are: Prevention and Early Intervention, Suicide Prevention, Children and Young People, Drugs and Alcohol, and Service Improvement.



Public Advocate

The Mental Health Champion will be a public advocate for mental health. They will have a person-centred focus, understand the experience of people with lived experience and be a voice for those otherwise voiceless. The Champion will communicate the collective voices of people with lived experience, their families and carers, and communities impacted by mental health inequalities. They will provide a critical voice and challenge decisions where mental wellbeing, suicide prevention, good mental health and recovery are not considered, and where such consideration would be beneficial for society as a whole.


Policy influence

The Champion will be a Government advocate to help and support Government Departments and Officials. They will participate in policy development across Government, to help Departments when developing mental health policy, suicide prevention policy, and other policies that can help to promote psychological wellbeing, resilience and good mental health. As a consensus builder they will integrate mental health and wellbeing across Government and encourage Government to think about resilience, mental health and recovery. As an adviser to senior stakeholders they will help integrate the principles of mental resilience and mental health in all public policy making. The Champion is also expected to challenge decisions where it is appropriate to do so.


Network Hub for the Development of Positive Mental Health

The Champion will serve as a Network Hub for the development of positive mental health across Northern Ireland. They will participate in the public debate around resilience, suicide prevention, mental health and recovery. The Office of the Mental Health Champion will create a natural focal point for mental wellbeing and mental health discussions and to speak out for those who have lived experience.


Department of Health NI 

Swann announces appointment of Interim Mental Health Champion

Department of Health NI: Mental Health Action Plan plus COVID Response Plan

ITV: Clarity over exam results needed now says NI Mental Health Champion

BBC: First NI Champion to 'Challenge Stormont'

British Psychological Society Welcomes appointment of Interim Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland

Meet Northern Ireland's New Mental Health Champion

Video: We meet Northern Ireland's New Mental Health Champion

Ulster University: Professor Siobhan O'Neill appointed Interim Mental Health Champion

Belfast Live: Professor Siobhán O’Neill reveals her aims as Northern Ireland's new Interim Mental Health Champion

Derry Now: County Derry professor relishing new mental health role

Derry Journal: New NI Mental Health champion Siobhán O’Neill ‘a strong voice for mental health’ - Mayor Tierney

Video: Mental Health & the Rural Community - Impact of the pandemic and how to seek help

Video: NVTV In Focus Siobhan O'Neill

Video: TEDx Stormont Imagine we prioritised mental health