HCR.20.056 – A system science approach to prevent common mental health problems among adolescents

Route: Health care research, sickness prevention and treatment

Cluster question: 059 How can we help children and adolescents grow up safe and healthy?

Anxiety and depression are the most prevalent mental health conditions affecting children and adolescents. Approximately 32% of adolescents (aged 13-18 years) are diagnosed with anxiety, and 14% diagnosed with depression. The third class of common mental health conditions, addictions, also has an onset in adolescence and often co-occurs with anxiety and depression. If left untreated, these conditions tend to become chronic and cause immediate adverse outcomes (school dropout), adversity in later life and enormous societal costs. The only sustainable method to reduce the burden caused by mental health disorders is effective prevention, but existing prevention has not led to substantial decreases in prevalence rates. Hence there is a need for more effective preventive interventions for common mental health conditions. We will develop and empirically test a radically new model of common mental health conditions that uniquely integrates the dynamics between multitudes of factors that play a role in mental health disorders from a complex systems perspective. Leverage points will be targeted with new effective, preventative interventions and policymaking and disseminated, to reduce the prevalence of these conditions and associated costs. This project has four import goals:1)Build a comprehensive model describing the complexities and dynamics of these major mental disorders in youth, identifying new leverage points for intervention strategies;2)Based on the identified leverage points, develop new interventions and test these in adolescents who are at high risk of developing common mental disorders;3)Create simulation models that will identify whether the new interventions lead to significant prevention of depression and anxiety symptomatology and common mental health conditions. Based on these simulations, empirical decisions can be made where to target best with interventions and policymaking;4)Examine the efficacy of our new interventions in reducing the prevalence of common mental health conditions and associated costs


addiction, anxiety, Depression, precision medicine, Prevention


Organisation AmsterdamUMC - Location AMC (Amsterdam UMC, AMC)
Name Dr. Ruth J. van Holst
E-mail r.j.vanholst@amsterdamumc.nl
Website https://www.uva.nl/en/shared-content/zwaartepunten/en/urban-mental-health/urban-mental-health.html