Conference Location

Conference Information


22-23 June 2023


Ulster University, Belfast campus, York Street, Northern Ireland, UK.


  • Prof. Raymond Bond
  • Dr Edel Ennis
  • Prof. Maurice Mulvenna


View the conference programme

Conference Summary

Conference Summary

Mental ill health is prevalent, and citizens need more support to prevent mental ill health as well as supporting their treatment and management of their mental health and wellbeing. With traditional services being under pressure, there is a need for more research to investigate the use of digital technologies to support the mental health and wellbeing of people.

However, we must also bear in mind that the implementation of digital technologies cannot solve all our problems. Nevertheless, digital technologies often come with benefits such as being somewhat sustainable, ubiquitous and being accessible 24/7. This conference is looking to attract novel work involving digital mental health interventions, e.g. mental healthcare apps, chatbots, web apps, wearables, sensors, and VR/AR tools to improve a person’s mental health and wellbeing.

We also want to attract data science, machine learning and AI research that is applied to the mental health domain - especially given the wealth of real-world mental health data that is available, which can provide new knowledge discoveries and insights.

The conference will feature keynotes and talks from leading academic researchers and service providers. There will be conference proceedings and a likely special issue in a Journal. We hope to see you in Belfast.

The conference is supported by the MENHIR project - ‘Mental health monitoring through interactive conversations’ (funded by H2020 EU research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 823907).

This conference is also sponsored by the HSC R&D office in Northern Ireland

MENHIR project

MENHIR project

This conference is funded and supported by the MENHIR project. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 823907.

Abstract submission (300-500 words)

Abstract submission (300-500 words)

Authors of accepted abstracts are required to register for the conference and to present their work at the conference. Abstracts will be peer reviewed and accepted abstracts will appear online in the conference proceedings.

Submit your Abstract
Special Issue Journals

Special Issue Journals

Journal of Behaviour & Information Technology

We have secured a special issue on digital mental health and wellbeing in the Journal of Behaviour & Information Technology (Impact Factor = 3.320 [2021]). We will invite and encourage authors to submit their best work to this Journal.

Nature Partner Journals

As part of the conference, we will also be supporting Journal paper submissions to a special 'AI in Mental Health' paper collection which will be published in a Nature Partner Journal (npj Digital Medicine or npj Mental Health Research).

npj Digital Medicine is an online open-access journal dedicated to publishing high quality peer-reviewed research in all aspects of digital medicine including the clinical implementation of digital and mobile technologies, virtual healthcare, data analytic methodologies and innovative sensor development to provide the necessary data and longitudinal monitoring to best inform the broadest medical community. The journal aims to guide innovation and the transformation of health and healthcare through the incorporation of novel digital and mobile technologies.

By choosing to publish your work in npj Digital Medicine, you will benefit from:

  • The visibility of publishing your work in the #1 ranking journal in the ‘Healthcare sciences and services’ category of Clarivate’s Web of Science
  • Engagement with an expert Editorial Team who care about your success
  • Personalized responses from our Editors and dedicated in-house team
  • Fair and consistent editorial decisions
  • Timely peer review (more about our metrics)

Please contact with any questions about the journal.

Submit an article to the BIT Journal special issue

Keynote Speakers

  • Professor Ciara McCabe (University of Reading, UK)
    Ciara McCabe


    Ciara McCabe is Professor of Neuroscience, Psychopharmacology and Mental Health and a University Research Fellow at Reading University. She has been director of the Neuroscience of Reward Group at Reading since 2013. She examines the processing of primary and secondary rewards at the behavioural and neural level and how this relates to the symptom of anhedonia in depression. She also examines how drug treatments interact with the reward response.

    Ciara did her BSc in Psychology at Queens University, Belfast. She did her PhD on the effects of anxiolytic drugs on animal models of frustrative non-reward at the University of Ulster, with Prof Leslie and in collaboration with Merck, Sharpe and Dohme. She did her first post doc with Prof Nader in primate models of drug addiction at Wake Forest, NC, USA.

    Ciara then moved to the Experimental Psychology Department at Oxford University to work on the brains response to primary rewards in humans with Professor Rolls and subsequently to the Psychiatry Department at Oxford University to work on neuropsychopharmacology and reward processing in patient and at-risk groups with Prof Harmer and Prof Cowen.

    She was awarded the Senior Non-Clinical Psychopharmacology Award and two separate In-Vivo Awards from The British Association of Psychopharmacology (BAP). She was also awarded the Rafaelsen Investigator Award from The International College of Neuropsychopharmacology, a Fellowship Award from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology and an Eli Lilly Fellowship Award presented at the BAP. She has held funding from the Medical Research Council and various Industry collaborators.

    Ciara is also Director of the Reading Scholars Programme in Psychology a widening participation programme for under-represented students. Ciara was an elected BAP councillor and trustee of the charity Immigrant Counselling and Psychotherapy (ICAP) for 5 years.


    'Examining real life reward function using digital EMA to find targets for anhedonia in adolescents'


    Adolescence is a period of change that crucially increases vulnerability to depression. Studies report blunted neural responses to reward that relate to positive affect and depression symptoms in adolescents. However how these results relate to the symptom of anhedonia (lack of pleasure and interest) in adolescents is not entirely clear.

    We have been examining how the brain responds to reward and aversion in those at risk of depression and adolescents with depression and anhedonia symptoms. Using fMRI we have shown how different components of reward and aversion processing such as the anticipation and consummation relate to anhedonia. We have also begun to measure effort for reward as a proxy for motivational deficits in depression. Our work shows that there are blunted brain responses to reward and aversion in adolescents with symptoms of depression and reduced physical effort.

    However, how the dimensional experience of anhedonia correlates with the subcomponents of reward processing in daily life is unknown. Recently we have begun to use experience sampling methodology to assess the human reward process in adolescents with depression in daily life using a smart phone app. The goal is to reveal the determinants of active behaviour and positive mood in real life in young people. Knowing this can help us develop new interventions for anhedonia.

  • Professor Zoraida Callejas Carrión (University of Granada, Spain)


    Speech and language technologies in digital mental healthcare


    Zoraida Callejas is Associate Professor at the University of Granada (Spain), from which she obtained a PhD in 2008. Her research focuses on areas related to dialogue systems, conversational systems, emotion processing, affective computing and user modelling. She has published more than 150 contributions to scientific journals, books and conferences, and has published 2 books.

    She has been an invited researcher at Technical University of Liberec (Czech Republic), University of Trento (Italy), Ulster University (UK), Technical University of Berlin (Germany), Ulm University (Germany), and Télécom ParisTech (France), among others. She has participated in more than 15 projects in European, Spanish and local calls, she currently coordinates the EU H2020 project MENHIR, with a consortium of 8 international partners.

    The main focus of MENHIR is the use of conversational technologies for mental health. She is also currently coordinating the Andalusian R&D project BonAppPetit related to the use of conversational systems to foster healthy habits in children, and the Spanish National project GOMINOLA on architectures based on microservice orchestration for the development of dialogue systems.

  • Professor John Torous (Harvard Medical School)
    John Totous


    Smartphone Digital Psychiatry: Understanding New Data, Clinical Oppurtunites, and Marketplace Apps


    John Torous, MD MBI is director of the digital psychiatry division, in the Department of Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School affiliated teaching hospital, where he also serves as a staff psychiatrist and assistant professor. He has a background in electrical engineering and computer sciences and received an undergraduate degree in the field from UC Berkeley before attending medical school at UC San Diego. He completed his psychiatry residency, fellowship in clinical informatics, and master's degree in biomedical informatics at Harvard. Dr. Torous is active in investigating the potential of mobile mental health technologies for psychiatry and has published over 200 peer reviewed articles and 5 books chapters on the topic. He serves as editor-in-chief for JMIR Mental Health, web editor for JAMA Psychiatry, currently leads the American Psychiatric Association’s Health IT Committee, and is a senior member in IEEE.

    Visit John Torous' website

  • Dr Gavin Doherty (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland)

    Title: The path towards the personal: a HCI perspective on Digital Mental Health

    Using a digital mental health technology is inherently a sensitive and private experience. Despite sustained interest in the possibility of in-the moment interventions leveraging the sensing capabilities of mobile phones and wearable devices, currently available systems do not necessarily deliver a personal and personalised experience. In this talk, I will discuss our efforts to support more personal and tailored experiences for the users of digital mental health interventions, looking at the design space of these interventions, considering motivations, feasibility, and acceptance. The talk will particularly consider possibilities for integration of Machine Learning capabilities within mental health interventions, and some of the difficulties surrounding these.


    Dr. Gavin Doherty is an Associate Professor and Fellow at the School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. He obtained his D.Phil. at the University of York, UK. He conducts research in the area of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), with a focus on digital health, and leads the Health Technology Design Group at TCD. The ultimate goal of his research is to better understand human interactions with technology, and use this understanding in the design of new technologies. In the area of digital mental health, he has led a team in the development of a series of innovative technology interventions which have had a profound impact on the delivery of digital mental health services worldwide. He led the development of the SilverCloud platform for human-supported online mental health interventions, which has been used to deliver evidence-based interventions to over 1 million people. The focus of his work has been on supporting and extending the reach of mental health professionals, and designing engaging systems in which clients have a greater degree of agency. Recent work has investigated human-centred approaches to the integration of machine learning in mental health.

Conference programme committee

Conference programme committee

  • Philip Donaghy, Ulster University
  • Courtney Potts, Ulster University
  • Dr Kyle Boyd, Ulster University
  • Prof. Raymond Bond, Ulster University
  • Dr Edel Ennis, Ulster University
  • Prof. Maurice Mulvenna, Ulster University
  • Prof. Huiru Zheng, Ulster University
  • Prof. Siobhan O'Neill, Ulster University
  • Prof. Luke Chen, Ulster University
  • Dr Patrick McAllister, Ulster University
  • Prof. Paul McKevitt, Ulster University
  • Prof. Mike McTear, Ulster University
  • Orla McDevitt-Petrovic, Ulster University
  • Colin Gorman , Ulster University
  • Grainne McAnee, Ulster University
  • Prof. Zoraida Callejas, University of Granada
  • Dr Lu Bai, Ulster University
  • Dr Jun Liu, Ulster University
  • Prof. Anna Esposito, Università della Campania
  • Prof. Gennaro Cordasco, Università degli Studi della Campania
  • Dr Matthias Kraus, University of Augsburg
  • Dr Margaret McLafferty, Ulster University
  • Dr Elaine Murray, Ulster University
  • Jonathan Smyth, Action Mental Health
  • Gavin McConvey, Action Mental Health
  • Dr Maria Wolters, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Anne Moorhead, Ulster University
  • Dr Kristel Miller, Ulster University
  • Dr Andrea Bickerdike, Munster Technological University
  • Dr Edward Coughlan, Munster Technological University
  • Dr Con Burns, Munster Technological University
  • Prof Sinéad McGilloway, Maynooth University
  • Dr Liadh Kelly, Maynooth University
  • Gillian Cameron, Inspire Wellbeing
  • Kate Turley, Chroma Lighting
  • Paul Best, Queens University Belfast


  • Digital mental health interventions
  • Health apps / web apps / software in mental health
  • Data science/analytics/machine learning in mental health
  • Speech analytics, NLP and smart speaker applications for mental health
  • Conversational user interfaces / chatbots for mental health
  • AI applications in mental health
  • Web technologies in mental health
  • VR / AR applications in mental health
  • Sensors and wearable technologies in mental health
  • Affective computing / positive computing
  • Databases and datasets in mental health
  • Cyberpsychology and digital wellbeing


Registration fee will cover coffee breaks and lunches and an evening conference dinner/meal.

Given HSC have also sponsored this event, HSC/NHS staff can attend free of charge. Please email if you are HSC/NHS staff to attend the talks. Note that this does not include catering/evening meal. Hence, if you wish to avail of catering/evening meal, then please register using the link.

Key dates:

  • Call for abstracts: ~October 2022
  • Abstract submission: ~1st March 2023
  • Abstract notification: ~1st April 2023
  • Conference: 22-23 June 2023
  • Special issue invitation: TBC
  • Special issue submission: TBC