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Mental Health Pathways from Childhood to Adulthood

Mental Health Pathways from Childhood to Adulthood

PhD project title and outline, including interdisciplinary dimension:
Mental Health Pathways from Childhood to Adulthood

There is a growing recognition that emotional and behavioural problems among children and young people can translate into mental ill health among adults. But such outcomes tend to be measured at a particular age or point in time, overlooking the mental health pathway followed to get to that point from childhood. One consequence of this is a failure to adequately distinguish between young people who do not experience later mental health problems; those who experience periodic problems; and those who suffer persistent mental ill health. This has implications for our understanding of how mental (ill) health develops over the life course and, more practically, for the targeting of interventions and support services.

This project will exploit data tracking large samples of young people from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood to examine the nature of mental health pathways and the individual, family and contextual factors that influence the pathway followed. Several data sources potentially support this approach, including the British Cohort Study (BCS, a large-sample longitudinal survey tracking all those born in a particular week in April 1970 currently up to age 42 years, with sweeps roughly every five years); the earlier National Child Development Study; the more recent Millennium Cohort Study; Understanding Society (a large-sample longitudinal household survey with annual waves from 2008/9); and the earlier British Household Panel Study. The international dimension of the project will come from exploiting similar longitudinal data in at least one other country, e.g. the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey or the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth. The research will draw on and speak to a number of academic disciplines including economics, sociology and health, and the supervisory team reflects this.

Primary Supervisor: Professor Duncan McVicar (Queen’s Management School)
Secondary Supervisor:
Dr Gavin Davidson (Social Sciences, Education and Social Work)
Third Supervisor: Dr Ciaran Shannon (Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Manager of Specialist Mental Health Psychology Services, Northern Health & Social Care Trust)
External Partner/Organisation: The Northern Trust