There are a variety of ways of using animals in rehabilitation or social care of humans, from feeding livestock and petting animals to equine-assisted therapy, pet therapy and dolphin therapy. Photograph: iStockphoto

Nature-based interventions have been shown to increase general mental wellbeing

Woodland walks: The Woodlands for Health project in Co Wicklow was set up in 2012. It has offered 12 weekly walks in nature to people using Wicklow mental-health services. Photograph: iStockphoto

Nature-based interventions for mental health involve gardens, animal therapy and more

By having some time to pursue their own activities and interests, carers could reduce their stress levels. Photograph: iStockphoto

Carers need to look after themselves, particularly their stress levels

Depression research has entered a new era with many different personalised treatment being tested around the world. Photograph: iStockphoto

Irish researchers to fore in seeking answers to severe, treatment-resistant depression

 Michelle McDonagh  with her son, Jake, when he was just eight months old,  in Blarney, Cork. Photograph:  Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

The black beast of depression has stalked me all my life, following me no matter how far I try to run

One in seven children and teenagers is waiting over a year for mental health treatment, according to the Children’s Mental Health Coalition.Photograph: iStockphoto

Life has its ups and downs so we need to teach our children ways to cope with anxiety

Illustration by Paul Scott

Incidents of the disease is on the rise in Ireland, but newly published research casts doubts on how prepared Ireland is to deal (...)

Michael Drohan and the Waterford COPD Support Group, which he helped to set up in 2011.

Michael Drohan knew nothing about COPD, but soon learned that with this disease, his lungs are irreparably damaged

One of the biggest problems is that teenagers think that engaging in deliberate non-fatal self-harm such as cutting is ‘not serious’. Photograph: Thinkstock

The risk of somebody dying by suicide in the year after a self-harming episode is about 100 times greater than that of somebody in(...)

Ireland rugby player Hannah Tyrrell: ‘The biggest thing in overcoming my illness was to acknowledge it, acknowledge that I needed help and also that the want and desire had to come from me.’

‘I had to learn to believe that I deserved to be happy and to lead a successful life’

Shingles is characterised by a painful rash, usually on one side of the body and most often on the trunk or torso. Photograph: Thinkstock

The condition is caused by the reactivation of the chicken pox virus within your body

Traffic medicine guidelines relate to drivers of all ages. Photograph: iStockphoto

Guidelines on fitness to drive make the way clearer for GPs and motorists

The new research highlights that in Ireland, heart failure remains “the Cinderella of cardiovascular diseases”, receiving proportionally less consideration than the management of acute coronary syndromes and arrhythmia.

The ‘Cinderella of cardiovascular diseases’ is causing more deaths than breast and bowel cancer

Michelle McDonagh: ‘The shock of that diagnosis and the way in which it was delivered meant that for the pitiably short time she had left, my mother was never the same person again. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Describing her diagnosis as 'a bit abrupt', Michelle McDonagh's mother tried to shield her family from the trauma of hearing she h(...)

Healthcare professionals should sit next to a patient, not across a desk, and should invite the patient to call them with any questions. Photograph: Thinkstock

Healthcare professionals need training and support in delivering a poor diagnosis to patients, say experts

Prof Geraldine Boylan, who is based in UCC, conducts research into the neonatal brain.

The pioneering treatment, lasting up to 96 hours, can also prevent permanent damage

Paula Dillon with her daughter Elisha: ‘Elisha’s arthritis affects the whole family.’  Photograph: Tomas Tyner, UCC

Elisha Dillon (10) has suffered from juvenile arthritis since she was a year old

Colm O’Boyle, bariatric surgeon at the Bon Secours Hospital, Cork. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/ Provision

Colm O’Boyle is a consultant bariatric surgeon and laparoscopic general surgeon at Bon Secours Hospital in Cork, and senior clin(...)

Ger O’Brien  of FirstLight, a charity that helps parents who have experienced the death of a child. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Ger O’Brien is head of bereavement for the FirstLight charity, which offers support, comfort and advice to parents who, like her,(...)

Prof Colette Cowan: ‘I loved nursing on the frontline, and patients, but my director of nursing at the time put me into an acting role and I loved it from the day I started.’ Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

Prof Colette Cowan is chief executive of the University of Limerick hospital group

Dr Mark Cahill at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital,  Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Mark Cahill is a consultant eye surgeon at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital and the Beacon Hospital

Dr Rhona Mahony in Tanzania  with the healthworkers she helped train. Photograph: Robert Ngumbo

Voluntary Service Overseas has cut the neonatal death rate in Mtwara by 30 per cent, but the high level of neonatal and maternal d(...)

Living with addiction can put family members under enormous stress. Photograph: Thinkstock

St Patrick’s has programmes that train family members living with addiction to influence their loved ones while also looking after(...)

 Dr Gillian Murphy, consultant dermatologist and director of the national photobiology unit at Beaumont Hospital, with specialist nurse Fidelma O’Dowd. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Dr Gillian Murphy is a consultant dermatologist and director of the national photobiology unit at Beaumont Hospital and the Mater (...)

Niamh Flynn, sports psychologist, certified hypnotherapy instructor and author, runs a migraine clinic in Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Niamh Flynn works with hypnosis to help bring relief to migraine sufferers

Psychologist Paul Gilligan’s book tries to alleviate parental guilt with tips on turning daily tasks into quality time

Ann Marie Brazel with twins Max and Will, from Raheny in Dublin.

The toddler years are crucial in a child’s development, so it is essential they get the right nutrients

 Dr Derek Power, consultant medical oncologist, Mercy University Hospital, Cork and Cork University Hospital. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/ Provision

Derek Power is a consultant oncologist, at Mercy University Hospital Cork and Cork University Hospital

Dr Andrea Holmes, consultant in genitourinary medicine and infectious diseases, at the Bon Secours Hospital in Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Andrea Holmes is a consultant in infectious diseases and genitourinary medicine, and medical director of a sexual assault treatmen(...)

  Big-Top training: Zoe O’Callaghan. Photograph: Reg Gordon

Circus training helps children and teenagers improve their balance and coordination, while boosting their confidence

The Advanced Southern Simulation Education and Training (Asset) Centre, University College Cork. Photograph: Tomas Tyner, UCC

Medical interns at UCC are trained in emergency situations in highly realistic simulation scenarios

Between 20g and 28g of olive oil a day will reduce the chance of depression

‘Mediterranean’ and ‘moderation’ were the buzz words at a recent conference on nutrition, which was told that a diet rich in both (...)

Gerry Hussey: ‘I work with athletes on all the human things that impact their performance such as stress, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, relationship breakdown, sickness, injury and bereavement.’ Photograph: Daragh Sheridan

A Week in My . . . high-performance psychology consultancy In conversation with Michelle McDonagh Gerry Hussey is a psycholo(...)

The Little Vista app gives parents updates about food intake, allergies, medicine given, temperatures, any sickness and other relevant markers.

Software that enables parents to follow their children’s activities is helping to rebuild trust with creches

Cliodhna Ní Laoghaire, who trains guide dogs at the headquarters and training centre of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind on the Model Farm Road in Cork, with guide dogs in training, Nico and Kili. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Cliodhna Ní Laoghaire is a guide-dog mobility instructor with Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind in Cork

Aoife Weller, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, near her home in Mullingar. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Many people fear discrimination if they tell their boss, but honesty and trust can help

Louise Kelly: “The nurses and other patients on the ward were surprised at how young I was.” Photograph: Paul Sharp/Sharppix

Louise Kelly had her first varicose vein surgery when she was 16, leaving her black and blue for weeks

Louise Kelly: ‘The nurses and other patients on the ward were surprised at how young I was.’Photograph: Paul Sharp/Sharppix

Louise Kelly had her first varicose vein surgery when she was 16, leavingher black and blue for weeks

Neonatal nurse Margaret O’Driscoll  at work in  Cork University Maternity Hospital. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Margaret O’Driscoll is a midwife in the neonatal unit at Cork University Maternity Hospital, which contains the three maternity un(...)

The effect of a benzodiazepine is calming without too much sedation, although they usually cause tiredness. The drug works by increasing the power of the brain’s natural calmer, the neurotransmitter GABA. Photograph: Stockbyte

Healthcare professionals in pharmacy will debate the Irish relationship with anti-anxiety medication

Eileen Forrestal, who works as an anaesthetist in Sligo Regional Hospital and also produces the Get Up And Go Diary. Photograph: James Connolly

Eileen Forrestal: ‘My work is all about paying attention at all times to everything’

Michael Hoban with his wife, Rita, in their home in Aughrim, Co Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Having lost most of my large and small intestines, I cannot digest and must be fed all of my food intravenously

From left, Dr Aoife Ryan, lecturer in nutritional sciences, UCC, Dr Derek Power, consultant medical oncologist, Cork and Mercy University Hospitals, Ann O’Connor, lecturer in culinary arts, Cork Institute of Technology, and Éadaoin Ní Bhuachalla, research dietitian, UCC. Photograph: Neil  Hurley

Family favourite recipes have been enhanced to maximise their calorie intake

Prof Fergal Malone, chairman of the RCSI department of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin.

New tests are noninvasive, and results are available within 10 days

Patrick Mullane and Dr John Waterstone with baby Bridget. Photograph: Micheal McSweeney/Provision

Genetic testing of an embryo prior to implantation gives people with genetic diseases the chance to become parents without passing(...)

Escape: Michael Gibbons was the only survivor when the helicopter he was in hit trees in thick fog

Michael Gibbons was the only survivor of a helicopter crash in 2005. Despite injuries to his spine and brain, he has rebuilt his l(...)

Regina Cunnane: “Our niche is really in high quality product with quirky, interesting clothes”

Small Business: Inside Track Q&ARegina Cunnane, Design House Barna, Co Galway

 Ann and Paul with their daughters, Sophia and Grace. Sophia was born at 25 weeks and four days.

Despite being a young area of medicine, neonatology is proving very dynamic

Eating foods that are high in fat and refined sugars activate the pleasure and reward centres of the brain, causing an increase in the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Photograph: Thinkstock

US study suggests cravings for fatty, sugary foods can be satisfied with healthy grub through special programme

Dr Louise Kenny, professor of obstetrics at University College Cork and a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, says she would never try to talk a woman or couple out of trying to conceive just because she is over 40.

Despite a woman’s fertility falling after the age of 36, more than a quarter of all births are to women over 35

A male Wakatobi Flowerpecker. Photographs: David Kelly and Nicola Marples

Research by a Phd student on a unique bird species may form part of international conservation planning

Mark Pollock at the Fail Better exhibition in Trinity’s Science Gallery. Photograph: Alan Betson

Blind and paralysed athlete Mark Pollock is racing to find a cure for spinal injury, with help from a global network

Photograph: Thinkstock

A new obesity study brings cautious optimism, but the researchers say the current level is unacceptable

‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams is the top requested song on Upbeat radio.

Having people with experience involved in the delivery of recovery courses and seminars is important

Geraldine Looney, with her coach, Kieran Reilly, and her guide dog, Irv.

Geraldine Looney is putting years of cycling aside as she prepares to run the Cork Mini Marathon, in aid of the Irish Guide Dogs (...)

Róisín and Mark Molloy: Their son, Mark, died 22 minutes after he was born. Photograph: Eric Luke

The death of Mark Molloy just after birth has led to an investigation of care and safety in maternity hospitals

One-third of most cancers can be prevented by factors that we can control through healthy diet, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. Photograph: Thinkstock

More than 60 per cent of people in Ireland survive for five years or longer after a cancer diagnosis and go on to live a normal an(...)

Guest DJs Alison Canavan, Alan Shortt and Theresa Lowe of Upbeat On Air, which will be broadcast live from St Patrick hospital, Dublin, from October 6th to 10th. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

St Patrick’s hospital will host Ireland’s first pop-up radio station to promote positive attitudes to mental health

Previous generations in Ireland did not talk about their emotions, and there a sense that it was shameful, especially for men, to show emotion. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Self-expression is the timely theme of The Merriman Summer School

Diabetic retinopathy can cause the blood vessels in the lining at the back of the eye (the retina) to leak or become blocked and damage your sight.  Photograph: Thinkstock

When caught early, treatment for retinopathy is effective at reducing or preventing damage to sight

For a burn, run cold or lukewarm water over the burned area for at least 15 minutes as hot drinks can burn for that length of time after being poured.

First-aid classes for parents and childminders, to learn how to cope with a home emergency, are a must

The iFightDepression programme was launched by Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch at a seminar hosted by the National Suicide Research Foundation at University College Cork

iFightDepression uses cognitive behavioural therapy and associated exercises

Declan and Helena O’Shea with twins Theon and Asha at home in Kilmihil, Co Clare. Photograph: Eamon Ward

The collection and storage of cord blood has divided medics and families alike, and the lack of legislation in this area simply ad(...)

 Malignant melanoma  is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, with 75 per cent of people dying within a year of diagnosis.  Photograph:  Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More than 600 people are diagnosed with melanoma in Ireland every year

Darren O’Toole, who has type 	1 diabetes, at home in Leixlip, Co Kildare. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Stepping Up website offers new resource to chronically ill patients moving from children’s to adult health services

Longford goalkeeper Damien Sheridan: Damien Sheridan’s Longford team beat Offaly last week to bag a quarter-final place against Wexford in the Leinster senior football championship on June 7th. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

If I had been told I had to give up sport after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, it would have broken me

More than 80 per cent of those entering basic specialist training aspire to work as consultants in Ireland but 92.5 per cent intend to spend some time working abroad. Photograph: Thinkstock

Study finds 92.5 per cent of those entering basic specialist training intend to spend some time working abroad

The Misunderstood was made by volunteers with intellectual disabilities and mental illness

An automated external defibrillator (AED) and dummy. A volunteer can be trained in their use to save lives. Photograph: Thinkstock

Don’t waste time waiting for an ambulance to arrive, keep the victim alive with some basic chest compressions

Marion Gabriel  with her son, Joey, in a play area of Cork University Maternity Hospital. Photograph:  Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Sensitive treatment after pregnancy loss can have a positive impact on the grief of bereaved parents

Prof Marsha Linehan, University of Washington, Kathleen Lynch, Minister for State with responsibility for Mental Health, and Daniel Flynn, Cork Mental Health Services.

A new behaviour therapy programme is helping people to manage emotional pain

Joan Freeman of Pieta House with her husband, Pat, in Pieta House, Bishopstown, Cork. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

With three more centres in the pipeline, Pieta House chief Joan Freeman says the charity is thriving

Veronika Kapsova: ‘A new monthly biological injection treatment has helped me get my life back on track again.’

At one point I lost all faith that I would ever be well again. I just wanted to live normally, like my friends

Large crowds have protested over the cut in acute inpatient psychiatric beds at St Brigid’s Hospital, Ballinasloe. Despite these protests, the unit has closed its first beds. Photograph: Hany Marzouk

Closure of five beds in St Brigid’s acute mental health unit leads to demands for review of ‘flawed decision’

Joe Sheerin: ‘My doctors and nurses were very good at explaining things but it’s great to talk to people who have been through the same illness and come out the other side.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne

At the age of 43, I was felled suddenly by a cancer I had never heard of. To call it a shock is an understatement

Dr Mark Rowe: ‘I encourage people to look at the silver lining rather than the dark cloud.’

A Waterford GP has enhanced his talks on wellbeing by turning them into theatrical performances

Detox days

Constantly at war with the highs and lows that come from a bad diet? It might be time for the vegetable juice . . .

Esther and Stephen Hourigan: Esther will receive an award for saving Stephen’s life when he suffered a stroke at the age of 31.

Stroke survivors and their families are being honoured at the annual Life After Stroke Awards today

Cancer Care West in Galway with its light-filled open plan drop-in centre.  Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

A Galway charity is providing the range of services needed to support patients with cancer

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can contribute to the development of depression. Photograph: Thinkstock

A new research project aims to show the benefits of treating depression in pregnant women

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