Barbara Brennan Receives Honorary Award from Ibec

29th April 2024

Posted In: Be In The Frame

Barbara Brennan’s journey from the depths of adversity to becoming a leading voice in mental health in Ireland was celebrated at Ibec’s Leading in Wellbeing Lunch recently, where she received the Honorary Award for “Outstanding Contribution to Wellbeing”.

This award has previously been won by celebrities Bressie and Brent Pope. In the spotlight for her unwavering commitment to mental health awareness and suicide prevention, Barbara’s story serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for individuals across Ireland.

At Ibec, fostering wellbeing in the workplace is a top priority. The organisation champions an inclusive business culture that empowers individuals to reach their full potential. Central to this mission is the promotion of mental health education and understanding. Barbara Brennan’s work aligns perfectly with these values, as she continues to break down barriers and encourage meaningful conversations about mental health.

The Leading in Wellbeing Lunch serves as a platform to celebrate the efforts of individuals and businesses who are making a positive impact on employee wellbeing. Barbara Brennan’s recognition is a testament to her dedication and advocacy in this critical area.

“We are thrilled to honour Barbara Brennan at our Leading in Wellbeing Lunch,” said Sophie Moran Senior Executive – KeepWell Programme Manager at Ibec. “Having collaborated with Barbara on various KeepWell initiatives, we have witnessed her unwavering commitment to fostering a culture of openness and support in workplaces across Ireland.

Her advocacy work plays a crucial role in creating environments where individuals feel safe to share their stories, seek help, and ultimately thrive.”

In 2008, after making a severe attempt to take her own life, Barbara found herself fighting for her life on a life support machine, having battled severe and complex mental illness for 15 years. Little did she know, this life-changing experience would become the catalyst for her remarkable journey of recovery and national advocacy work.

Emerging from the darkness, Barbara became an ‘accidental activist,’ dedicating the last 16 years of her life to creating positive change in Irish society regarding mental health.

Barbara’s transformation started as a volunteer when she helped launch See Change [the national stigma reduction partnership] in 2009, which led her to facilitating their workplace programme nationally, to then stepping up to run the entire national See Change programme and Green Ribbon campaign as the National Team Leader for 5 years.

Reflecting on her journey, Barbara shares, “After 15 years of severe and complex mental illness, I never thought I could get better. From there, I certainly never thought I would rise to be a recognised name across Ireland for championing mental health.

It has been the privilege of my life to help others understand that mental health problems can affect us all, and that, most importantly, recovery is possible.”

Barbara’s impact extends beyond organisational boundaries, as she continues to collaborate with influential bodies like Mental Health Reform, The Mental Health Commission, and others dedicated to supporting individuals with lived experiences of mental health issues.

Accepting this prestigious award, Barbara expresses her gratitude, saying,

“I am humbled to accept this meaningful award, and am grateful to the team at Ibec and KeepWell for recognising me in this space.”

Today, Barbara Brennan leads her own business and shares her invaluable experience by facilitating workplace conversations, shaping robust mental health policies, providing mental health champion training, and supporting staff to the highest standards in workplace mental health. Her dedication to creating a more supportive and inclusive environment for mental health is unwavering, as she continues to inspire and drive positive change across Irish society.

Pictured (l-r): Brendan Courtney, Sarah Mc Sharry (Ibec), Barbara Brennan (recipient of the Honorary Award ‘Outstanding Contribution to Wellbeing’) and Síle Seoige.