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Youth mental health is a rapidly developing field with a focus on prevention, early identification, treatment innovation and service development. In this perspective piece, we discuss the effects of COVID-19 on young people’s mental health. The psychosocial effects of COVID-19 disproportionately affect young people. Both immediate and longer-term factors through which young people are affected include social isolation, changes to the delivery of therapeutic services and almost complete loss of all structured occupations (school, work and training) within this population group. Longer-term mechanisms include the effects of the predicted recession on young people’s mental health. Opportunities within this crisis exist for service providers to scale up telehealth and digital services that may benefit service provision for young people’s mental health in the future.
There are high rates of psychiatric morbidity associated with refractory epilepsy. It is unclear whether seizure frequency or comorbid psychiatric illness impacts more upon patients’ quality of life in epilepsy. The objective of this study was to establish which of these two factors impacted more upon patients.
Patients with medically refractory epilepsy who were admitted to the National Neurological Centre in Beaumont Hospital were recruited to the study. Structural Clinical Interview for DSM IV (Axis I) (SCID I) and SCID II (Axis II) were the objective measures and HADS, and QOLIE-89 were the subjective measures utilized.
A total of 138 patients had SCIDs conducted over the four year study. 75 patients (54.4%) had an Axis I disorder. Of these 30 patients (21.7%) had a mood disorder, 18 patients (13%) had an anxiety disorder and 49 patients (35.5%) were diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. There was no relationship between patient seizure frequency and HADS (p=0.94) or QOLIE-89 (p=0.93) scores. Patients having a high number of seizures were not more likely to have a SCID Axis I diagnosis than patients with a low number of seizures (p=0.246). Patients with a mood disorder were more likely to have a lower QOLIE-89 score than patients without a mood disorder (p=0.0001).
Patients with medically refractory epilepsy have high rates of psychopathology. Seizure frequency is not correlated with the presence, severity of psychiatric symptoms or quality of life. The presence of a psychiatric disorder and its severity is strongly correlated with quality of life.
Evidence suggests that early trauma may have a negative effect on cognitive functioning in individuals with psychosis, yet the relationship between childhood trauma and cognition among those at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis remains unexplored. Our sample consisted of 626 CHR children and 279 healthy controls who were recruited as part of the North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study 2. Childhood trauma up to the age of 16 (psychological, physical, and sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and bullying) was assessed by using the Childhood Trauma and Abuse Scale. Multiple domains of cognition were measured at baseline and at the time of psychosis conversion, using standardized assessments. In the CHR group, there was a trend for better performance in individuals who reported a history of multiple types of childhood trauma compared with those with no/one type of trauma (Cohen d = 0.16). A history of multiple trauma types was not associated with greater cognitive change in CHR converters over time. Our findings tentatively suggest there may be different mechanisms that lead to CHR states. Individuals who are at clinical high risk who have experienced multiple types of childhood trauma may have more typically developing premorbid cognitive functioning than those who reported minimal trauma do. Further research is needed to unravel the complexity of factors underlying the development of at-risk states.
To identify and synthesise the literature on the cost of mental disorders.
Systematic literature searches were conducted in the databases PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, EconLit, NHS York Database and PsychInfo using key terms for cost and mental disorders. Searches were restricted to January 1980–May 2019. The inclusion criteria were: (1) cost-of-illness studies or cost-analyses; (2) diagnosis of at least one mental disorder; (3) study population based on the general population; (4) outcome in monetary units. The systematic review was preregistered on PROSPERO (ID: CRD42019127783).
In total, 13 579 potential titles and abstracts were screened and 439 full-text articles were evaluated by two independent reviewers. Of these, 112 articles were included from the systematic searches and 31 additional articles from snowball searching, resulting in 143 included articles. Data were available from 48 countries and categorised according to nine mental disorder groups. The quality of the studies varied widely and there was a lack of studies from low- and middle-income countries and for certain types of mental disorders (e.g. intellectual disabilities and eating disorders). Our study showed that certain groups of mental disorders are more costly than others and that these rankings are relatively stable between countries. An interactive data visualisation site can be found here: https://nbepi.com/econ.
This is the first study to provide a comprehensive overview of the cost of mental disorders worldwide.
Childhood adversity is associated with poor mental and physical health outcomes across the life span. Alterations in the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis are considered a key mechanism underlying these associations, although findings have been mixed. These inconsistencies suggest that other aspects of stress processing may underlie variations in this these associations, and that differences in adversity type, sex, and age may be relevant. The current study investigated the relationship between childhood adversity, stress perception, and morning cortisol, and examined whether differences in adversity type (generalized vs. threat and deprivation), sex, and age had distinct effects on these associations. Salivary cortisol samples, daily hassle stress ratings, and retrospective measures of childhood adversity were collected from a large sample of youth at risk for serious mental illness including psychoses (n = 605, mean age = 19.3). Results indicated that childhood adversity was associated with increased stress perception, which subsequently predicted higher morning cortisol levels; however, these associations were specific to threat exposures in females. These findings highlight the role of stress perception in stress vulnerability following childhood adversity and highlight potential sex differences in the impact of threat exposures.
Migrant youths endure many challenges. Such challenges can be stressful and lead to psychological difficulties. We investigated the relationship between migration, psychopathology and stressful events in children and adolescents. We hypothesised that migrant youths would show higher levels of psychopathology and more stressful life events than non-migrant youths.
Using the Child cohort (Cohort ‘98) of the ‘Growing up in Ireland’ study we investigated psychopathology, as measured by the Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) at age 9 and 13 and stressful life events in migrant and non-migrant youths.
There was no significant difference between the proportion of migrant and non-migrant youths reporting psychopathology in childhood (p>0.05) or adolescence (p>0.05). Analysis of the SDQ subscales revealed that a significantly greater proportion of migrant youths had hyperactivity problems in childhood (p = 0.04) but a greater proportion of non-migrant youths had emotional problems in early adolescence (p = 0.04). We found that migrant youths experienced significantly more stressful life events than their non-migrant counterparts (p<0.01), however, once ‘Moving house/country‘ was removed as a stressor, there was no difference between the groups (p>0.27).
Contrary to our hypothesis, we observed that there were few differences between migrant and non-migrant youths in the levels of psychopathology. Migrant youths experienced a greater number of stressful life events, however, this was attributable to stressors relating to moving. An increased understanding of the factors promoting resilience, as demonstrated by the migrant youths, could aid health professionals and policy makers to effectively tailor interventions for mental health promotion.
Prenatal inflammation is an established risk factor for schizophrenia. However, the specific inflammatory pathways that mediate this association remain unclear. Potential candidate systems include inflammatory markers produced by microglia, such as cytokines and complement. Accumulating evidence suggests that these markers play a role in typical neurodevelopmental processes, such as synapse formation and interneuron migration. Rodent models demonstrate that altered marker levels during the prenatal period can cause lasting deficits in these systems, leading to cognitive deficits that resemble schizophrenia. This review assesses the potential role of prenatal cytokine and complement elevations on the etiology of schizophrenia. The current neurobiological understanding of the development of schizophrenia is reviewed to identify candidate cellular mechanisms that may be influenced by prenatal inflammation. We discuss the functions that cytokines and complement may play in prenatal neurodevelopment, review evidence that links exposure to these factors with risk for schizophrenia, and consider how these markers may interact with genetic vulnerabilities to influence the neurodevelopment of schizophrenia. We consider how prenatal inflammatory exposure may influence childhood and adolescent developmental risk trajectories for schizophrenia. Finally, we identify areas of further research needed to support the development of anti-inflammatory treatments to prevent the development of schizophrenia in at-risk neonates.
Hill (Twin Research and Human Genetics, Vol. 21, 2018, 84–88) presented a critique of our recently published paper in Cell Reports entitled ‘Large-Scale Cognitive GWAS Meta-Analysis Reveals Tissue-Specific Neural Expression and Potential Nootropic Drug Targets’ (Lam et al., Cell Reports, Vol. 21, 2017, 2597–2613). Specifically, Hill offered several interrelated comments suggesting potential problems with our use of a new analytic method called Multi-Trait Analysis of GWAS (MTAG) (Turley et al., Nature Genetics, Vol. 50, 2018, 229–237). In this brief article, we respond to each of these concerns. Using empirical data, we conclude that our MTAG results do not suffer from ‘inflation in the FDR [false discovery rate]’, as suggested by Hill (Twin Research and Human Genetics, Vol. 21, 2018, 84–88), and are not ‘more relevant to the genetic contributions to education than they are to the genetic contributions to intelligence’.
To date, Ireland has been a leading light in the provision of youth mental health services. However, cognisant of the efforts of governmental and non-governmental agencies working in youth mental health, there is much to be done. Barriers into care as well as discontinuity of care across the spectrum of services remain key challenges. This editorial provides guidance for the next stage of development in youth mental care and support that will require significant national engagement and resource investment.
Our understanding of the complex relationship between schizophrenia symptomatology and etiological factors can be improved by studying brain-based correlates of schizophrenia. Research showed that impairments in value processing and executive functioning, which have been associated with prefrontal brain areas [particularly the medial orbitofrontal cortex (MOFC)], are linked to negative symptoms. Here we tested the hypothesis that MOFC thickness is associated with negative symptom severity.
This study included 1985 individuals with schizophrenia from 17 research groups around the world contributing to the ENIGMA Schizophrenia Working Group. Cortical thickness values were obtained from T1-weighted structural brain scans using FreeSurfer. A meta-analysis across sites was conducted over effect sizes from a model predicting cortical thickness by negative symptom score (harmonized Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms or Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale scores).
Meta-analytical results showed that left, but not right, MOFC thickness was significantly associated with negative symptom severity (βstd = −0.075; p = 0.019) after accounting for age, gender, and site. This effect remained significant (p = 0.036) in a model including overall illness severity. Covarying for duration of illness, age of onset, antipsychotic medication or handedness weakened the association of negative symptoms with left MOFC thickness. As part of a secondary analysis including 10 other prefrontal regions further associations in the left lateral orbitofrontal gyrus and pars opercularis emerged.
Using an unusually large cohort and a meta-analytical approach, our findings point towards a link between prefrontal thinning and negative symptom severity in schizophrenia. This finding provides further insight into the relationship between structural brain abnormalities and negative symptoms in schizophrenia.
Although repeatedly associated with white matter microstructural alterations, bipolar disorder (BD) has been relatively unexplored using complex network analysis. This method combines structural and diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to model the brain as a network and evaluate its topological properties. A group of highly interconnected high-density structures, termed the ‘rich-club’, represents an important network for integration of brain functioning. This study aimed to assess structural and rich-club connectivity properties in BD through graph theory analyses.
We obtained structural and diffusion MRI scans from 42 euthymic patients with BD type I and 43 age- and gender-matched healthy volunteers. Weighted fractional anisotropy connections mapped between cortical and subcortical structures defined the neuroanatomical networks. Next, we examined between-group differences in features of graph properties and sub-networks.
Patients exhibited significantly reduced clustering coefficient and global efficiency, compared with controls globally and regionally in frontal and occipital regions. Additionally, patients displayed weaker sub-network connectivity in distributed regions. Rich-club analysis revealed subtly reduced density in patients, which did not withstand multiple comparison correction. However, hub identification in most participants indicated differentially affected rich-club membership in the BD group, with two hubs absent when compared with controls, namely the superior frontal gyrus and thalamus.
This graph theory analysis presents a thorough investigation of topological features of connectivity in euthymic BD. Abnormalities of global and local measures and network components provide further neuroanatomically specific evidence for distributed dysconnectivity as a trait feature of BD.
The U.K. 1.2 metre Schmidt Telescope acquired its first full aperture objective prism in 1975. This was a very low dispersion prism (2400 Å/mm at 4300 Å) which has been found to be particularly useful in searching for faint QSO’s.
Our knowledge of the universe comes from recording the photon and particle fluxes incident on the Earth from space. We thus require sensitive measurement across the entire energy spectrum, using large telescopes with efficient instrumentation located on superb sites. Technological advances and engineering constraints are nearing the point where we are recording as many photons arriving at a site as is possible. Major advances in the future will come from improving the quality of the site. The ultimate site is, of course, beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, such as on the Moon, but economic limitations prevent our exploiting this avenue to the degree that the scientific community desires. Here we describe an alternative, which offers many of the advantages of space for a fraction of the cost: the Antarctic Plateau.
The multi-object spectroscopic facility FOCAP at the Anglo-Australian Telescope has been used to obtain spectra centred at the Ca II IR triplet of 14 stars in the field of the Sextans dwarf spheroidal (dSph) galaxy. This satellite of our own Galaxy was recently discovered by Irwin et al. (1990) from APM measures of UK Schmidt Telescope photographic plates.
Impulsivity is associated with bipolar disorder as a clinical feature during and between manic episodes and is considered a potential endophenotype for the disorder. Schizophrenia and major depressive disorder share substantial genetic overlap with bipolar disorder, and these two disorders have also been associated with elevations in impulsivity. However, little is known about the degree of overlap among these disorders in discrete subfacets of impulsivity and whether any overlap is purely phenotypic or due to shared genetic diathesis.
We focused on five subfacets of impulsivity: self-reported attentional, motor, and non-planning impulsivity, self-reported sensation seeking, and a behavioral measure of motor inhibition (stop signal reaction time; SSRT). We examined these facets within and across disorder proband and co-twin groups, modeled heritability, and tested for endophenotypic patterning in a sample of twin pairs recruited from the Swedish Twin Registry (N = 420).
We found evidence of moderate to high levels of heritability for all five subfacets. All three proband groups and their unaffected co-twins showed elevations on attentional, motor, and non-planning impulsivity. Schizophrenia probands (but not their co-twins) showed significantly lower sensation seeking, and schizophrenia and bipolar disorder probands (but not in their co-twins) had significantly longer SSRTs, compared with healthy controls and the other groups.
Attentional, motor, and non-planning impulsivity emerged as potential shared endophenotypes for the three disorders, whereas sensation seeking and SSRT were associated with phenotypic affection but not genetic loading for these disorders.
A series of research reports has indicated that the use of substances such as cannabis, alcohol and tobacco are higher in youth at clinical high risk (CHR) of developing psychosis than in controls. Little is known about the longitudinal trajectory of substance use, and findings on the relationship between substance use and later transition to psychosis in CHR individuals are mixed.
At baseline and 6- and 12-month follow-ups, 735 CHR and 278 control participants completed the Alcohol and Drug Use Scale and a cannabis use questionnaire. The longitudinal trajectory of substance use was evaluated with linear mixed models.
CHR participants endorsed significantly higher cannabis and tobacco use severity, and lower alcohol use severity, at baseline and over a 1-year period compared with controls. CHR youth had higher lifetime prevalence and frequency of cannabis, and were significantly younger upon first use, and were more likely to use alone and during the day. Baseline substance use did not differentiate participants who later transitioned to psychosis (n = 90) from those who did not transition (n = 272). Controls had lower tobacco use than CHR participants with a prodromal progression clinical outcome and lower cannabis use than those with a psychotic clinical outcome at the 2-year assessment.
In CHR individuals cannabis and tobacco use is higher than in controls and this pattern persists across 1 year. Evaluation of clinical outcome may provide additional information on the longitudinal impact of substance use that cannot be detected through evaluation of transition/non-transition to psychosis alone.
Increasing rates of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) are a cause of concern both in Ireland and internationally, but little longitudinal research has examined the link between psychiatric disorder in young people and NEET status.
The Challenging Times (CT) Study is a longitudinal, population-based study of psychopathology among 212 young Irish people. Clinical interviews were performed at two time points: 12–15 years and 19–24 years.
NEET status in young adulthood was associated with a sevenfold increased risk of current suicidal ideation. This result was independent of prior adolescent mental disorder. NEET young people had a fourfold increased odds of being diagnosed with a mental disorder in childhood or early adolescence compared with their economically active peers. NEET young people were at an almost threefold increased risk of any mental health disorder a twofold increased risk of anxiety disorder and threefold increased odds of suicide attempts over their lifetime compared with economically active peers.
NEET young people are at increased risk for mental disorder and suicidal ideation. The association is bidirectional, as prior mental disorder in adolescence appeared to account for much of the association between NEET status and current mental health problems. However, economic inactivity conveys an increased risk for suicidal ideation over and above that due to prior disorder. Our findings provide a compelling economic and societal argument for early intervention and treatment of mental disorder and the importance of vocational interventions for reducing suicide risk in young adults.
There is a lack of epidemiological research on the mental health of young adults in Ireland.
To determine prevalence of psychiatric disorders in a cohort of young Irish adults.
The Challenging Times study was a landmark study of the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in adolescents in North Dublin, Ireland: 212 school children aged 12-15 years were recruited through schools and interviewed using the K-SADS semi-structured diagnostic instrument. This cohort was traced again at age 19-24 years (mean age 20.8 years) and interviewed using SCID I & II. Main outcome measures were current and lifetime Axis I and Axis II psychiatric disorders.
Follow-up rate was 80%. Using a weighted population prevalence analysis 19.8% of the cohort had a current mental disorder, 56.0% had a lifetime mental disorder of whom 28.4% had mood disorders, 27.1% had anxiety disorders, 22.7% had substance use disorders; 25.4% had lifetime multi-morbidity. Cluster A personality disorders were found in 2.3%. Lifetime prevalence of binge-drinking was 75.0%, cannabis use 65% and 17% of young adults had fulfilled criteria for an alcohol use disorder at sometime in their life. Lifetime prevalence of suicidal thoughts/behaviour was 21.1%.
Lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorder and substance use were high in this sample of young Irish adults. Mental Health service provision for this age group is a priority. Larger studies of nationally representative samples are needed to inform service development.
This editorial discusses the application of a novel brain imaging analysis technique in the assessment of neuroanatomical dysconnectivity in psychotic illnesses. There has long been a clinical interest in psychosis as a disconnection syndrome. In recent years graph theory metrics have been applied to functional and structural imaging datasets to derive measures of brain connectivity, which represent the efficiency of brain networks. These metrics can be derived from structural neuroimaging datasets acquired using diffusion imaging whereby cortical structures are parcellated into nodes and white matter tracts represent edges connecting these nodes. Furthermore neuroanatomical measures of connectivity may be decoupled from measures of physiological connectivity as assessed using functional imaging, underpinning the need for multi-modal imaging approaches to probe brain networks. Studies to date have reported a number of structural brain connectivity abnormalities associated with schizophrenia that carry potential as illness biomarkers. Structural connectivity abnormalities have also been reported in well patients with bipolar disorder and in unaffected relatives of patients with schizophrenia. Such connectivity metrics may represent clinically relevant biomarkers in studies employing a longitudinal design of illness course in psychosis.
1) to assess compliance with the Data Protection Acts (DPA) by a Department of Psychiatry in a general hospital, 2) to implement measures that are likely to maximize compliance with the hospital data protection policy, 3) to close the audit cycle by assessing the impact of such measures on departmental compliance with the DPA over five months period.
An individual, anonymised staff questionnaire on data collection practices, procedure of disclosure of data to third parties and previous training on DPA was used to collect information from the department staff. The premises were inspected at different times over a week period using structured checklist. Default points were recorded during each inspection. Post-audit interventions included a mixture of educational interventions and practical solutions. A re-audited took place five months later using the same method.
The baseline audit demonstrated significant lack of compliance with the DPA among staff members and lack of staff training on the DPA. Following the interventions, staff awareness of the requirements of the act rose which in turn lead to better adherence to recommend practices in data handling and to mean default points dropped significantly. Management of manual files appears to constitute the biggest problem in this audit. Daytime breaks were found to pose higher risk to stored data compared with before and after working hours.
A combination of educational and practical interventions including training of staff on the DPA results in overall improvement in compliance and reduction in default points. However, management of manual (physical) data proves to be more difficult and hence will need more input.