Optimizing outcomes in children of depressed parents: Identification of modifiable promoters of sustained mental health resilience.

Children and Young People’s Mental Health PhD Scholarship 2020 - University of Cardiff

Supervisors: Stephan Collishaw, Frances Rice, Gemma Hammerton
Lay Summary: Over 1 million children in the UK live with a parent with depression. They are at high risk of depression and other mental health problems. These can have a profound and long-lasting impact on young people’s education, relationships and future health.  However, whilst some develop serious mental health difficulties, others are surprisingly resilient. Very little is known about why this is. This project focuses on protective factors that help promote good mental health in studies that track the development of children of depressed parents into adult life. Previous work has pointed to important modifiable child, family, social and lifestyle factors that could be targeted by mental health intervention to forestall future mental health difficulties. However, the long-term benefits of these protective factors remain unclear. The scholarship will involve new research examining predictors of long-term mental health resilience in children of depressed parents in high-risk and unselected population cohorts. These children are now in their 20s. Young adulthood is a particularly important time, when mental health problems often first emerge and when young people often face major challenges in their lives – leaving home, going to University, gaining employment or starting a family of their own. The objectives of the study are to 1) identify modifiable predictors of mental health resilience; 2) understand why, when and how protective factors have beneficial effects on mental health; and 3) work with affected families to develop new guidelines for promoting mental health in young people at risk for depression.