Headline, a national programme of Shine, the organisation that supports people affected by mental illness, is pleased to announce RTÉ’s Brian O’Connell and Newstalk’s Claire Darmody as the 2024 winners of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism in the Republic of Ireland (RCJF). 

Founded by former United States First Lady Rosalynn Carter, The Fellowship programme gives journalists across the world the required resources to report on mental and behavioural health issues to help deconstruct the stigma faced by millions of people daily. With the support of Headline, Shine and The Carter Center, O’Connell and Darmody will have the crucial resources necessary to produce work that furthers this important cause. 

O’Connell and Darmody will represent Ireland, joining over 250 mental health journalism alumni fellows from across the globe. O’Connell’s submission focuses on dual diagnosis with addiction and mental illness, while Darmody’s is a suicide prevention project based on bereaved children whose parents have died by suicide. 

This is the second year of the fellowship programme in Ireland. Headline’s Programme Leader, Áine O’Meara said: “We wanted to build on the success of the programme’s inaugural year, and we have achieved that. The standard of entries this year was superb and covered a wide range of mental health topics. Thanks to all those who applied for the programme and the work they put into their submissions. Dual-diagnosis and suicide bereavement are two crucially important topics. We’re honoured to support both Brian and Claire with this work.” 

Shine CEO Nicola Byrne congratulated the new fellows, saying they are worthy winners with projects on two important aspects of mental health that will provide significant insights and learnings to inform and improve supports for people living with mental illness in Ireland. “The two projects will also contribute to the all-important work of reducing stigma around mental illness.” 

Dr. Karen Ladley, Senior Associate Director of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism and Media at The Carter Center said, “The work completed in the first year of the fellowship program in Ireland has increased public awareness of mental health and policy discussions such as the recent conversation in Parliament about fellow Órla Ryan’s exceptional work related to psychosis.” 

The fellows will have one year to complete their projects and will publish stories from their investigations over the course of that year. They will present their completed work at The Carter Center in September 2025. 

Outgoing fellows, Órla Ryan from The Journal and Noteworthy, and Shauna Bowers from The Irish Times, will return to The Carter Center in September to present their outstanding work. Their projects covered topics related to psychosis services for teens and mental health services in the justice system respectively.