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About Psychotraumatology, Mental Health & Suicidal Behaviour

This research group focuses on two areas of research:

  1. The impact of trauma and stressful situations on general health and well-being, mental health, and suicidal behaviour.

  2. The development and assessment of interventions to promote mental well-being and/ or treat mental disorders and suicidal behaviour.

The principles underlying the research group ethos are:

  • The provision of a functional and supportive research group

  • Collaborative, multidisciplinary working

  • Mentorship of early career researchers

  • Supporting colleagues in preparation for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF)

  • Producing research with practice and policy relevance

There is considerable overlap across our areas of interest however this does not preclude RRG members from specific investigation within one particular area. A key focus of the RRG relates to the area of Psychotraumatology, this refers to the study of processes and factors that lie antecedent to, are associated with, and are subsequent to psychological traumatisation. The RRG aims to add to the knowledge base in this field through studies that address biopsychosocial factors related to risk, resilience, prevention, and treatment. In addition, the RRG will focus on research leading to impact and policy level change in Northern Ireland.  The RRG therefore aims to influence the way in which people that have experienced or are currently experiencing trauma, mental health issues, and / or suicidal ideation & behaviour are identified, supported, and treated.

The RRG recognises the need for collaborative multidisciplinary approaches to attract research funding and compete internationally. The group also recognise the need for research to have impact and policy relevance and the importance of PPI and public engagement. The research group members have extensive international research networks including the world mental health survey initiative, the international college student project, the international suicide and self-harm research networks, and the National Centre of Psychotraumatology in Denmark. We work with a range of healthcare providers, innovators, and charities to develop research which influences practice.

The RRG has several large-scale ongoing funded research projects including projects on Veteran Health & Well-being, Student Well-Being (Cross national cohort Survey and collaboration with the Broad Institute to study mental health Biomarkers), Developing & testing a systematic recording system for deaths by suicide, Mental Health skills and suicide prevention training for police officers, and Reporting barriers for domestic violence incidents. We are additionally undertaking funded cohort studies of mental well-being in Irish secondary schools. We are research partners with NI Association for Mental Health, the largest provider of non-statutory mental health services in NI, as well as several other major mental health charities. Our members have a track record in securing research funding from a range of sources including the NI R&D Office, the European Union, ESRC/ MRC, Forces in Mind Trust, The Big Lottery Fund, and Atlantic Philanthropies.

Recent funded projects include:

  • Understanding, supporting and serving the NI veterans' community, comprising ex-service personnel and their families. Forces in Mind Trust [Big Lottery & Cobseo] £355,262

  • Mental Health Needs of the 'Hidden Veteran Community in Northern Ireland' (HVC-NI). Forces in Mind Trust [Big Lottery & Cobseo].£396,828

  • The development and pilot testing of a systematic recording system for deaths by suicide in Northern Ireland to enhance the validity of the NI suicide database. PHA R&D £40,0000

  • Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour to determine attitudes and knowledge of e-cigarette use in a sample of Northern Irish young people (11-16yrs) and their parents. NI Chest Heart & Stroke (NICHS), £116,453

  • COllaborative Network for Training and EXcellence in psychoTraumatology; CONTEXT. Horizon 2020, Innovative Training Networks (ITN), Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, 3.32 million Euros (3,316,177, 44)

  • The development and pilot testing of a systematic recording system for deaths by suicide in Northern Ireland to enhance the validity of the NI suicide database

  • Ulster University Student Wellbeing Study

  • Towards A Better Future – The Trans-generational Impact of the Troubles on Mental Health

There are several PhD studentships attached to this RRG:

  • Shelly Fletcher: The long term consequences of childhood sexual abuse: Risk and resilience

  • Jana Mullerova: Assessing posttraumatic stress disorder as outlined in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)

  • Kenneth Ross: Keeping it in the family, the longitudinal course of military traumatisation in veterans and their spouses

  • Martin Robinson: Mental Health of Veterans in Northern Ireland

  • Carol Rhonda Burns: The psychological impact of male interpersonal violence victimisation

  • Marie O'Neill: Residents' experiences of moving from home into a care home

  • Margaret McLafferty: An examination of the mental health impact of childhood adversities and predictors of resilience in Northern Ireland

  • Maeve Doyle: Unemployment and Mental health: an investigation

  • Bronagh Delargy: An examination of the Adverse Associations between Housing Circumstances and Mental Health in Northern Ireland