B3709 - Analysis of developmental relations between co-occurring mental health problems to inform interventions - 02/02/2021

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Lydia Gabriela Speyer | University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom)
Dr Aja Louise Murray
Title of project: 
Analysis of developmental relations between co-occurring mental health problems to inform interventions
Proposal summary: 

Mental health problems represent one of the leading drivers of overall disease burden. Half of all lifetime psychiatric disorders present before adulthood, with a point prevalence of between 10% and 20% of children and adolescents experiencing mental health difficulties. In addition, more than 40 percent of youths with a lifetime psychiatric disorder go on to develop at least one additional mental illness concurrently or later in life. This adds significant complexity to diagnosis and interventions and further increases the likelihood of negative outcomes, such as criminality, low educational attainment and unemployment. A developmental perspective that investigates the interrelations between multiple mental health issues from early life up until adulthood is likely to offer important insights into why mental health problems commonly co-occur and can consequently inform prevention strategies. In the current project, using state-of-the art statistical techniques, we propose to analyse the developmental relations of mental health problems. We will further examine potential factors linking mental health problems together such as genetic predispositions to mental health problems, perinatal risk factors, and school problems. The results of this project will have important clinical implications. In particular, they will shed light on potential risk factors that drive the development of co-occurring mental health problems, give insights into which symptoms are likely to precede other symptoms and further help identify other factors that might exacerbate the development of co-occurring mental health problems. Thus, findings will inform early intervention strategies for preventing the development of secondary mental health disorders.

Impact of research: 
Findings of this research will have important implications for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of co-occurring mental health problems. First, the project will shed light on different patterns of co-occurring mental health problems as well as underlying risk factors that increase the likelihood of suffering from co-occurring mental health problems. This will inform diagnostic criteria and will help to reduce the prevalence of co-occurring mental health problems through targeted interventions. Second, through examining the direct and indirect links between symptoms of different mental health difficulties and other potential risk factors, results will illuminate mechanisms that underlie the developmental course through which co-occurring disorders develop. This will help to improve targeted early intervention strategies that have the potential to prevent the development of secondary mental health problems. Overall, this project will help reduce the prevalence of mental health issues and improve long-term outcomes for children and adolescences suffering from a mental health disorder. Findings will be disseminated through publications in international peer-reviewed journals and will be presented at national and international conferences.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 28 January, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 1 February, 2021
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Developmental disorders - autism, Mental health, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Cognition - cognitive function, Development, Genetic epidemiology