Attitudes to Mental Health and Suicide in Northern Ireland

In this new Research Update, Siobhan O'Neill (Northern Ireland's Mental Health Champion), Margaret McLafferty (Research Fellow, Ulster University) and Paula Devine (Director of the Northern Ireland Life and Times [NILT] survey) explore public attitudes to mental health and suicide in Northern Ireland.  This paper is based on data from the 2021 NILT survey, and was published to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week 2022.  Download a copy at:

Health Inequalities Annual Report 2022

In April, the Department of Health in Northern Ireland published the Health Inequalities Annual Report 2022.  This publication presents a comprehensive analysis of regional health inequality gaps between the most and least deprived areas of Northern Ireland, and sub-regional gaps within Health and Social Care Trust and Local Government District areas across a range of health indicators.  Download a copy of the report at:


It is well established that HGV drivers are exposed to a number of health-related risk factors, such as shift work and long periods of sedentary behaviour (sitting), which contribute towards chronic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.  New research, led by Loughborough University, investigated whether HGV drivers’ health behaviours could be improved using a specially designed ‘Structured Health Intervention For Truckers’ (SHIFT) programme.  The findings indicate that such a targeted health programme - including health education sessions, Fitbits, and lorry cabin workouts - can improve the activity levels of long-distance HGV drivers in the short-term.  Find out more at:

Sun Smart 2022

If you work outdoors, you are exposed to 2-3 times more UV radiation from the sun than people who work indoors - putting you at a higher risk of skin cancer.  If you spend all or part of the day regularly working outdoors you can reduce your risk of skin cancer and eye damage by protecting your skin and eyes from the sun.  Unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause skin damage.  While sunburn is the most damaging, long term exposure (like working outdoors most days - even without burning) - also significantly increases the risk of skin cancer.  Find out more at:

Men's Help-Seeking and Engagement with General Practice

This journal article seeks to critically synthesise the literature that describes men's help-seeking and engagement with General Practice.  Thematic analysis revealed four themes related to structural barriers, internal barriers, men's understanding of the role of General Practice, and self-care / help-seeking.  The findings indicate that men: find General Practice unwelcoming and unaccommodating; can experience psychological barriers that impact engagement and help-seeking; and predominantly view General Practice as a source of acute health care - rather than a source of preventive health care and advice.  See the article at:

Global Burden of Disease - Alcohol

Alcohol places a significant health burden on Ireland.  Understanding the extent of this burden is an important element in policy decisions around alcohol.  Data from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study indicates that previous measures of alcohol related deaths and illnesses are underestimates, and that 5% of all deaths in Ireland in 2019 are attributable to alcohol.  Read more at:

Hidden Homelessness

This research was commissioned by Simon Community NI and undertaken by a team based at Ulster University.  The aim of the research was to examine the issue of ‘hidden’ homelessness in Northern Ireland - that is, people who are homeless but whose situation is not ‘visible’.  It looked at why individuals become vulnerable to hidden homelessness, the barriers and challenges they encounter in seeking help and support, and the most discernible impacts upon those affected by it.  Access the report and find out more about this research at: