In our latest career profile, Aisling Doherty who works as a mental health promotion officer for Mental Health Ireland describes what inspired her to a career in health promotion.
What inspired you towards a career in health promotion?
I completed an undergrad in Health Science and Physiology, in Sligo I.T. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I did know it was something to do with people and health. I progressed to complete the one year add on in Public Health and Health Promotion at Sligo I.T. This was a great introduction into the area and within the first month I knew it was a career I could see myself working in. From here I completed the Masters in Health Promotion at NUI Galway which benefited me greatly in deepening my understanding of the density of this field.
What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?
I am currently a mental health promotion officer for Mental Health Ireland. This was a new role at the organisation so it required me to work initially scoping out what is currently happening in this area both nationally and internationally. I am currently developing different mental health promotion programmes, initiatives and campaigns for the general population across a variety of settings. Another part of my role at Mental Health Ireland is to examine the health needs of those experiencing a severe/enduring mental illness and how best to address those needs.
What advice would you give to anyone starting out in a career in health promotion?
Persevere. Unfortunately, in Ireland we do not have an abundance of HP jobs but there are a lot of jobs out there which require you to utilise all of your HP skills and knowledge. Explore different avenues and work in as many different sectors as possible to get a real sense for the field.
What does AHPI membership mean for you?
I found in most of my roles, I was the only one working in health promotion in that organisation. It can become a solo sport sometimes, however after joining AHPI and attending events I seen the network of HP practitioners was much larger than I could anticipate. I find it really useful for networking and staying in touch with research and events in HP. I also find the AHPI very much a members association. All they do and contribute to is for the advancement of the profession in Ireland.
What do you find the most challenging about working in health promotion?
Convincing people that health promotion works but also that it is a specialised career with a large evidence base and a variety of undergraduate/postgraduate options. I think the introduction of the new accreditation system for HP practitioners here in Ireland should help to improve the understanding and recognition of HP in a couple of years.