Chair of Mental Health Commission

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Dr John Hillery has been appointed as Chair of the Board of the Mental Health Commission by Minister for Mental Health & Older People, Mary Butler.

Dr Hillery has been an MHC Board member since November 2020 and replaces John Saunders, who has stepped away after serving two five-year terms on the Board.

A graduate of the medical school at the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI), and of the National Higher Training Scheme in Psychiatry, Dr Hillery worked for more than 20 years as a consultant psychiatrist with the HSE’s Tallaght mental health team, and in services in Dublin and Kildare for people with intellectual disability. He is a past President of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and of the Medical Council. 

Dr Hillery said: “I am looking forward to the opportunity of chairing the Mental Health Commission Board over the next five years and working together with the Minister and her department to implement our new mental health policy, Sharing the Vision, while ensuring that we maintain high standards across all services. The role of the MHC will become even more critical over the coming years with the expansion of its regulatory powers. This will ensure that appropriate oversight occurs to ensure that the best and safest services are delivered in our communities.

“I also realise that I am taking up this position as the MHC prepares to launch the Decision Support Service (DSS) this summer. From serving on the Board for the past 18 months, I appreciate how the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 and the DSS will fundamentally change how we interact with and support adults who have difficulties making everyday decisions. As a society, we are making a hugely positive step forward and it’s an honour to be a part of that.”

The Minister has also appointed seven new Board members, who are replacing members who have come to the end of their terms. The new members are Mr Ray Burke, Ms. Catherine Cocoman, Dr Joseph Duffy, Ms. Linda Curran, Ms. Martina McGuinness, Ms. Tammy Donaghy and Dr Orla Healy. Apart from Dr Hillery, the Minister has also reappointed to the Board Ms. Rowena Mulcahy, Dr Michael Drumm, Ms. Fionn Fitzpatrick, Dr John Cox, and Dr Margo Wrigley.

The Chief Executive of the Mental Health Commission, John Farrelly, warmly welcomed the appointment of Dr Hillery and the other new Board members. “Dr Hillery will bring significant expertise and experience to his role as Chairperson, and I look forward to working with him and our new Board members as we prepare to enter an exciting new period for Irish mental health services.

“The MHC executive and staff have repeatedly demonstrated that we are an impartial and independent regulator. With the support of a diverse new Board, who will bring fresh ideas and perspectives, I am confident that we will continue to promote, encourage and foster high standards and good practices in the delivery of our mental health services.”

Mr Farrelly also expressed his thanks to John Saunders for his role as Chairperson for the past five years. “John contributed so much in terms of guidance and leadership to the MHC over the past decade. We wish him the very best in his work both inside and outside the mental health sector.”

You can read more about all of our new board members here.