Our experts

Dr Alan Cooklin Our Time Founder and Family PsychologistDr Alan Cooklin, Founder

“A thin line separates strange family behaviour from mental illness. Most approaches to working with parents with a mental health problem isolate the ill individual and take little account of the impact on other family members. This is changing and Our Time has been at the forefront of this movement.”

Dr Alan Cooklin is a pioneering family psychiatrist with 50 years’ experience of supporting families affected by mental illness. He collaborated on Our Time’s workshop model to help children understand their parent’s illness, to feel less responsible for it, and less fearful of ‘catching’ it. His training film ‘Being Seen and Heard,’ is widely used by professionals and families as a resource to help them understand this issue.

Dympna Cunnane CEO Our TimeDympna Cunnane, CEO

“I am proud to lead Our Time so that children of parents with a mental illness have a voice and get the support they need. I am confident our approach is effective because it comes from talking to the children and families about what they find useful and our interventions are designed to be intelligent, compassionate and hopeful.”

A highly skilled executive coach, Dympna Cunnane combines organisational expertise with a background in psychology. She has over twenty years’ experience as a consultant to top level executives in international public and private sector companies.

With a BA in Psychology and Philosophy (University College Dublin), an MA in Psychology (Tavistock Institute London), a Post Graduate Diploma in Systems Thinking, as well as professional training in psychoanalysis (Jungian), Dympna is committed to developing resources to help young carers understand and cope with families where mental illness is an issue.

Claire JohnstonClaire Johnston, Chair

“Children of a parent with mental illness are astonishingly creative and courageous – taking on young carer roles which would defeat many an adult. But this is often at great expense as their chances to do well at school, build friendships and grow into well-balanced adults are diminished. I have seen first-hand the devastating impact on children’s lives.”

A director of nursing, working on NHS Mental Health and Community Trust boards for 15 years, Claire Johnston, has also worked in clinical and operational service roles in family and mental health and safeguarding. She is honorary clinical professor of nursing at Middlesex University’s Institute of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, and has been the National Adviser in Primary Care for the Royal College of Nursing.

Dr Leonard FaginDr Leonard Fagin, Trustee

“As a consultant psychiatrist working for many years in deprived areas of east London, I was able to see the transgenerational impact of mental health in families. Helping children to develop resilience when having to cope and respond to parental mental illness offers an opportunity to break this cycle for future generations.”

Dr Leonard Fagin, a consultant psychiatrist and honorary senior lecturer at University College London, set up the Hackney Our Time Workshop and offers parental mental health supervision in Hackney Children and Young People’s Services. He is a recognised authority having authored books and papers on a wealth of mental health issues.