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And Finally

The Spike Milligan Trophy and Prize.

Three medical students from Queens University Belfast have scooped the top award in an all-Ireland intervarsity debating competition aimed at changing attitudes to mental illness.

The Spike Milligan Trophy and Prize, named after the late actor and comic who suffered from manic depression throughout his life and who gave his full support to the competition, was presented to Ciara McGoldrick, Michael Moran and Maggie McGurgan along with a handsome cash prize.

The Queens trio managed to beat off stiff competition from teams from Royal College of Surgeons Ireland and National University Ireland Galway in the Dublin final which examined the topic How to Change Minds on Mental Health. They secured a place in the final after defeating Trinity College Dublin in Belfast during a debate entitled Suicide! What to Do, What to Say.

The judging panel for the final in Chief ONeills Hotel, Smithfield, Dublin, was chaired by Professor Fiona McNicholas, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University College Dublin, included psychiatrist Dr Michael Curran, Kate OFlaherty, the Sunday Tribunes health correspondent and Gareth OCallaghan, 2FM radio presenter.

Organised by the Irish division of Royal College of Psychiatrists, the competition aims to encourage medical students throughout Ireland to foster positive attitudes towards those with mental illness.

According to Dr Jim Anderson, Public Education Officer NI Section of Irish Division, one of the competition organisers, the Queens team gave a superb and inspiring presentation.

This has been one of the most useful and effective strategies yet devised to change attitudes towards those with mental illness. In the course of our event, we addressed one quarter of the fourth year medical students within six universities in Ireland, bringing to them sophisticated and challenging viewpoints.

The battle against stigma and discrimination for those with mental illnesses will be a long one, beginning with initiatives such as this, he said.

The Queens team will be repeating their winning work at the Irish Association of Suicidology Conference in Belfast in September.

The competition was sponsored by Pfizer (Ireland).

For further information, contact:

Dr Jim Anderson Public Education Officer NI Section Irish Division Royal College of Psychiatrists 123 St Stephen's Green Dublin 2 Tel: 00 353 402 2346 Fax: 00 353 402 2344 Email: irishdiv@eircom.net

Elaine Fitzsimons Communications Office, Tel: (028) 9027 4719

mike@spikemilligan.co.uk