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MQ announces £1.5m of new research to take on depression and suicide in young people

Today we’ve announced new major research projects working to address two of the most critical mental health issues facing young people today – depression and suicide.

Depression is one the biggest causes of disability worldwide. It often starts young, and can lead to a lifetime of suffering. And suicide is the second highest cause of death for young people – only accidents claim more lives.

With total funding of £1.5 million, two groups of international scientists will be building evidence-based models to universally predict and identify young people at risk of developing depression or suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Led by UK-based researchers Dr Valeria Mondelli (King’s College London), and Dr Anne-Laura van Harmelen (University of Cambridge), these ground-breaking projects are a central part of MQ’s young people’s research programme, Brighter Futures.

Together they provide real hope for getting young people the help they need sooner – reducing the devastating, life-long impacts of mental illness and ultimately, saving lives.

Identifying Depression in Early Adolescence (IDEA)

MQ’s IDEA project is a major new cross-cultural study to find global risk factors for depression in young people – analysing data about family and social environment, stressful experiences, brain images, and biological data of 10-24 year olds from the UK, Brazil, Nigeria and Nepal.

An international team led by Dr Valeria Mondelli at King’s College London, will be building a global evidence-based model that could transform the way we understand and diagnose depression – one of the most common and debilitating mental health conditions in young people.

Utilising data from culturally diverse settings from high to low-middle income countries, the project will bring a new understanding of the different factors leading to the development of depression in adolescence. 

By combining these insights they are aiming to develop a screening tool for NHS and other professionals to use in diverse settings to deliver effective care sooner.

Help Overcome and Prevent the Emergence of Suicide (HOPES)

MQ’s HOPES project aims to build a new evidence-based way of understanding and predicting which young people are at highest risk of attempting suicide.

Research on suicide falls behind that of other areas of young people’s mental and physical health. Clinicians do not know enough about which young people with suicidal thoughts are most likely to try to end their lives, and how this can be prevented.

The HOPES team led by Dr Anne-Laura van Harmelen at The University of Cambridge is determined to fill this gap in knowledge. They’re developing a model to predict who is at risk of suicide – analysing data on suicidal behaviour and traits in young people from across the world to identify specific, universal risk-factors. The team aim to rapidly translate their new insights into urgently needed improvements in clinical care and suicide prevention.

Commenting, MQ Chief Executive, Cynthia Joyce said:

“The combined potential impact of our Brighter Futures programme is profound. Depression and suicide are currently among the least understood – and most devastating –  issues in young people’s mental health. 

Together, these projects are designed to transform our understanding of how mental illness develops, how we can identify which young people are most at risk, and how we can create badly needed better treatments for young people worldwide."

Last month MQ also announced our Adolescent Data Platform, a vital third element of our young people’s research programme, Brighter Futures. The data platform will be an unprecedented hub for data on mental health and young people.

MQ would like to express special thanks to one of our Founding Partners, the Bernard Lewis Family Charitable Trust, for their support of the Brighter Futures programme.

Last updated: 10 October 2017

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