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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.
Abnormal body mass index (BMI) has been associated with development of psychopathology. This association in children is well documented, for both overweight and underweight children. However, the association between change in BMI and the development of psychopathology has been less investigated.
To investigate the association between change in BMI between childhood and adolescence and psychopathology in adolescence.
Data from the Growing Up in Ireland cohort were used. We investigated the ’98 cohort (also known as the child cohort) at age 9/13. BMI, defined using internationally recognised definitions as underweight, healthy or overweight, was used as the exposure, and abnormal Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire scores were used as the outcome. Logistic regression was undertaken for the analysis. All analyses were adjusted for confounders.
A change to overweight from healthy BMI was significantly associated with increased risk of psychopathology (adjusted OR 1.66; 95% CI 1.19–2.32). Both change from underweight to healthy (adjusted OR 0.12; 95% CI 0.03–0.43) or from overweight to healthy (adjusted OR 0.47; 95% CI 0.79–0.8) was associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing psychopathology.
As a child’s BMI returns to within the healthy range, their risk of adolescent psychopathology is reduced. Interventions to restore healthy BMI, in both underweight and overweight, children may reduce their risk of adolescent psychopathology.
Often referred to as psychotic experiences, unusual perceptual experiences, thoughts and beliefs (UPTBs) are not uncommon in youth populations. Phenomenological studies of these experiences are lacking. This study aimed to (1) describe the phenomenological characteristics of UPTBs in a sample of young adolescents and (2) explore how young people made sense of those experiences.
Participants were 53 young people aged 11–13 years from a population-based study of mental health. All met criteria for UPTBs following clinical interviews as part of the study. Documentary data on UPTBs in the form of transcribed notes, recorded during clinical interviews, were analysed using content analysis. Data on UPTBs were coded, organised into categorical themes and quantified using descriptive statistics. Qualitative themes on how participants made sense of their experiences were identified.
Participants reported UPTBs across four domains: auditory verbal, auditory non-verbal, non-auditory perceptual experiences and unusual thoughts and beliefs. UPTBs were phenomenologically rich and diverse. Young people sought to make sense of their experiences in multiple ways: normalising them, externalising them by attributing them to paranormal entities and distancing them from psychiatric explanations. Uncertainty about the source of UPTBs was identified as a superordinate theme.
Findings from this study offer new insights into the phenomenological qualities and characteristics of UPTBs in young adolescents. They also reveal that early adolescents may not make sense of their experiences within a psychiatric framework. These findings highlight the need to develop a more phenomenologically sensitive and nuanced approach to studying UPTBs in young people.
In 1928, Noel Morss was shown “irrigation ditches” along Pleasant Creek on the Dixie National Forest near Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, by a local guide who contended they were ancient. We relocated the site and mapped the route of an unusual mountain irrigation canal. We conducted excavations and employed OSL and AMS 14C showing historic irrigation, and an earlier event between AD 1460 and 1636. Geomorphic evidence indicates that the canal existed prior to this time, but we cannot date its original construction. The canal is 7.2 km long, originating at 2,450 m asl and terminating at 2,170 m asl. Less than half of the system was hand constructed. We cannot ascribe the prehistoric use-event to an archaeological culture, language, or ethnic group, but the 100+ sites nearby are largely Fremont in cultural affiliation. We also report the results of experimental modeling of the capital and maintenance costs of the system, which holds implications for irrigation north of the Colorado River and farming during the Little Ice Age. The age of the prehistoric canal is consistent with a fragmentary abandonment of farming and continuity between ancient and modern tribes in Utah.
Individuals who report psychotic-type experiences are at increased risk of future clinical psychotic disorder. They constitute a ‘at-high risk’ group for studying the trajectory to schizophrenia and related illnesses. Psychotic disorders are a significant risk factor for suicide, especially young people. Previous research has used screening instruments to identify this high risk group but few studies have followed up by an in-depth clinical interview to assess the relationship between psychotic symptoms and suicidality or other psychopathology.
As part of a community study, a 50-minute self -reported screening questionnaire which included one item designed to assess psychotic symptoms (auditory hallucinations) was administered to 900 adolescents aged 14 years in community schools, in Cork, Ireland. The following question (“Have you ever heard voices or sounds that no one else can hear?”) was used as it has been shown previously to have best predictive power (Kelleher., 2009). Other screening questions assessed suicidality and other psychopathology. Detailed clinical interviews by experienced child and adolescent psychiatrists were subsequently carried out with some of these adolescents who endorsed a positive answer to screening questions.
We plan to calculate the sensitivity and specificity and positive predictive value for the specific screening symptom on auditory hallucinations and its relationship to psychopathology as verified on clinical interview.
Our results will be of value to those engaged in treating children and adolescents with psychiatric disorder and will inform on the clinical significance of a positive answer to a screening question on auditory hallucinations in adolescence.
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.
Psychotic experiences (PEs) are reported by a significant minority of adolescents and are associated with the development of psychiatric disorders. The aims of this study were to examine associations between PEs and a range of factors including psychopathology, adversity and lifestyle, and to investigate mediating effects of coping style and parental support on associations between adversity and PEs in a general population adolescent sample.
Cross-sectional data were drawn from the Irish centre of the Saving and Empowering Young Lives in Europe study. Students completed a self-report questionnaire and 973 adolescents, of whom 522 (53.6%) were boys, participated. PEs were assessed using the 7-item Adolescent Psychotic Symptom Screener.
Of the total sample, 81 (8.7%) of the sample were found to be at risk of PEs. In multivariate analysis, associations were found between PEs and number of adverse events reported (OR 4.48, CI 1.41–14.25; p < 0.011), maladaptive/pathological internet use (OR 2.70, CI 1.30–5.58; p = 0.007), alcohol intoxication (OR 2.12, CI 1.10–4.12; p = 0.025) and anxiety symptoms (OR 4.03, CI 1.57–10.33; p = 0.004). There were small mediating effects of parental supervision, parental support and maladaptive coping on associations between adversity and PEs.
We have identified potential risk factors for PEs from multiple domains including adversity, mental health and lifestyle factors. The mediating effect of parental support on associations between adversity and PEs suggests that poor family relationships may account for some of this mechanism. These findings can inform the development of interventions for adolescents at risk.
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.
Acute rheumatic fever (ARF), an auto-immune response to a group A Streptococcus infection and precursor to rheumatic heart disease (RHD), remains endemic in many socio-economically disadvantaged settings. A Global Resolution on ARF and RHD was recently adopted at the 71st World Health Assembly where governments committed to improving efforts to prevent and control ARF and RHD. To inform these efforts, the objectives of this study were to examine associations between childhood ARF in the UK between 1958 and 1969 and a range of environmental and social factors. Of 17 416 children from the nationally representative birth cohort of the National Child Development Study, ARF was reported in 23 children during early childhood (between birth and the 7-year follow-up) and in 29 additional children during middle childhood (between the 7- and 11-year follow-ups). Risk factors associated with ARF in both early and middle childhood were: a large family size; attendance at a private nursery or class; a history of nephritis, kidney or urinary tract infections; and a history of throat or ear infections. Risk factors for ARF in early childhood alone were families with fathers in a professional or semi-professional occupation and families who moved out of their local neighbourhood. Risk factors in late childhood alone included overcrowding and free school meals. These data suggest that prevention strategies in ARF endemic settings may be enhanced by targeting, for example, new members entering a community and children in environments of close contact, such as a nursery or shared bedrooms.
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.
Using the VLT-SPHERE/ZIMPOL adaptive optics imaging polarimeter, images of a sample of nearby red supergiants (RSGs) were obtained in multiple filters. From these data, we obtain information on geometrical structures in the inner wind, the onset radius and spatial distribution of dust grains as well as dust properties such as grain size. As dust grains may play a role in initiating and/or driving the outflow, this could provide us with clues as to the wind driving mechanism.
The combination of sensitivity and large sky coverage of the ALFALFA HI survey has enabled the detection of difficult to observe low mass galaxies in large numbers, including dwarf galaxies overlooked in optical surveys. Three different, but connected, studies of dwarf galaxies from the ALFALFA survey are of particular interest: SHIELD (Survey of HI in Extremely Low-mass Dwarfs), candidate gas-rich ultra-faint dwarf galaxies, and the (Almost) Dark population. SHIELD is a systematic multiwavelength study of all dwarf galaxies from ALFALFA with MHI < 107.2M⊙ and clear optical counterparts. Candidate gas-rich ultra-faint dwarf galaxies extend the dwarf galaxy population to even lower masses. These galaxies are identified as isolated HI clouds with no discernible optical counterpart but subsequent observations reveal that some are extremely faint, gas-dominated galaxies. Leo P, discovered first as an HI detection, and then found to be an actively star-forming galaxy, bridges the gap between these candidate galaxies and the SHIELD sample. The (Almost) Dark sample consists of galaxies whose optical counterparts are overlooked in current optical surveys but which are clear detections in ALFALFA. This sample includes field gas-rich ultra-diffuse galaxies. Coma P, with a peak surface brightness of only ∼26.4 mag arcsec−2 in g’, demonstrates the sort of extreme low surface brightness galaxy that can be discovered in an HI survey.
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.