Mental Health

The NI Clinical Research Network (NICRN) undertakes Mental Health research throughout Northern Ireland. The NICRN is part of a UK-wide initiative to provide opportunities for patients and clinicians to participate in high-quality clinical research.

The NICRN aims to:

    • Promote research in mental health within Northern Ireland;
    • Attract clinical trials in mental health to Northern Ireland;
    • Conduct clinical trials in mental health across Northern Ireland to the highest standards of quality and safety;
    • Improve access for people with mental health difficulties to new cutting-edge interventions and treatments;


The NICRN (Mental Health) achieves this by:

    • Utilising infrastructure and resources to facilitate the start-up of new trials in medicines and therapeutic interventions for people with mental health difficulties within HSC NI;
    • Communicating with, providing consultation and engaging in Outreach to organisations with an interest in Mental Health research throughout the UK and Ireland;
    • Creating a cohesive and navigable research infrastructure for Mental Health research in Northern Ireland.


We will support clinical trials and other studies in:

    • Perinatal mental health;
    • Child and adolescent mental health;
    • Intellectual disability;
    • Young adult, adult and old age psychiatry.

Dr Ciaran Mulholland NHSCT/QUB

Mental Health – Clinical Lead

Ciaran Mulholland has been a consultant psychiatrist with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust since 1998, and since April 2000, Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Medical Education (Lead for Psychiatry) at The Queen’s University of Belfast. He was appointed as an Honorary Professor by the Bamford Centre for Mental Health Research at the Ulster University in 2009 and was elected Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2012. Currently, he is co-lead for an innovative service for young people with “at risk mental states”- that is, those thought to be at risk of developing a psychotic illness and the Clinical Director of the Regional Trauma Network, established to address the mental health consequences of the “Troubles”.

He has research interests in the causes and treatments of first episode psychosis; the “At Risk Mental State; the impact of childhood trauma on mental health outcomes in adulthood, and; the impact of political violence on mental health outcomes.

He has published more than 100 research papers and several books and book chapters. He has experience of organising and participating in both local clinical trials and international, multi-centre, randomised, controlled trials.

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Professor Gerry Leavey – University of Ulster

Mental Health – Clinical Lead

Professor Gerry Leavey took up the post of Director of the Bamford Centre at Ulster University in September 2012.  He is Deputy Director of the ADR-Ni and Co-Lead for the NI Clinical Research Network – Mental Health.  Prior to this, he was the Director of Research for Barnet, Enfield & Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust and a researcher in the Department of Mental Health Sciences, University College London.  As a social worker he spent several years with Jewish Care, working with Holocaust survivors. He completed an MSc in Public Health and Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a PhD in Medical Sociology at UCL. He returned to Belfast in 2008. 

His research career has focussed on mental health services. He has a long-standing collaboration with the Division of Psychiatry at UCL, undertaking several major NIHR funded studies of housing and rehabilitation services. He has published widely on service pathways and access by minority ethnic, migrant, and disadvantaged populations. His work ranges from epidemiological studies on ethnic elders and refugee children to qualitative investigations of community level agencies such as schools and faith-based organisations, and their role in the recognition and management of mental illness.

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