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Pneuma Healthcare, a Northern Ireland-based company and spin-out of Ulster University, is tackling NHS waiting lists for mental health services, while providing employment opportunities for local graduates.

The company has been working with the Greater Manchester Health Trust, one of the largest in the UK, to tackle long waiting lists for those seeking support for common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

By offering shorter appointments either via telephone or video-conferencing, known as ‘low-intensity cognitive behavioural therapy’, Pneuma Healthcare ensures more people can be seen with a shorter space of time – helping to reduce waiting times. This support is also more accessible for people with a range of disabilities, caring and employment responsibilities, or those living in remote locations.

Pneuma Healthcare was founded by Ulster University’s Dr Colin Gorman earlier this year, in response to research carried out by colleague Dr Orla McDevitt-Petrovic. The study had found a reliable improvement was achieved by almost 80% of clients, and a full recovery of more than half (52.1%) when receiving support through shorter, lower-intensity sessions. With the qualitative outcomes of the research showing this approach to be clinically effective, Pneuma Healthcare was set up to address a known gap in service provision and support timely access to vital support.

CEO of Pneuma Healthcare and Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at Ulster University, Dr Colin Gorman said:

“At Pneuma Healthcare, we are breathing life back into mental health services and helping to reduce the time it takes for people to get the help they need when it comes to mental healthcare. Not having access to the right support can have severe impacts on people’s lives – particularly within those first six weeks, and can lead to people feeling like they have no other option but to drop out of work or education, or even worse sometimes, as a result. The value of early intervention is that it stops this deterioration and helps people get back to normal life. The technology-first approach means Pneuma’s NI-based staff can effectively and efficiently treat patients anywhere in the world. While the majority of the patients they are currently treating are based in Britain, the company is working with local health trusts to explore embedding Pneuma services in NI.

Based across Ulster University's Belfast and Derry~Londonderry campuses, Pneuma Healthcare is already boosting the NI economy as it employs local psychology graduates, enabling them to put their skills and learning to positive use in rewarding roles. The company currently employs 10 people and will enjoy further growth in January with two more staff joining as it works to keep skilled graduates in NI.

Psychological wellbeing practitioner with Pneuma Healthcare, Cara McErlain, said:

“I graduated from Ulster University in 2020 with a degree in Psychology and knew I wanted to stay in Northern Ireland but when I began looking for roles in my chosen field, I struggled to find graduate opportunities. Thankfully in May of this year, I saw an opportunity with Pneuma Healthcare and decided to take a chance and apply for a psychological wellbeing practitioner role which would allow me to develop my professional skills, build my experience while staying here in NI. I’ve been with Pneuma for the past seven months and it has been both a challenging and rewarding opportunity, allowing me to fulfill the ambitions I’ve had from a young age of working in mental healthcare and helping clients prioritise their mental health in their daily lives.”

To find out more about Pneuma Healthcare and the services they offer, visit: