Epigenetics: How genes and the environment shape children’s mental health

by Charlotte Cecil

Mental illness is one of the leading causes of disability around the world, affecting one in three people every year in Europe alone – at an estimated cost of over €460 billion. It is hugely disruptive to the lives of individuals, their families and to wider communities.

If we are to successfully rise to the challenge of understanding how mental health disorders develop – and therefore how best they may be prevented – we must wind back the clock to children’s early development. More than half of all diagnosable mental health problems start before the age of 14, and often manifest earlier in childhood as emotional and behavioural problems, such as anxiety, depression, aggression or hyperactivity.

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The importance of our social environment in understanding suicidal behaviour

by Duleeka Knipe

Over 800,000 people die by suicide every year – that’s one death every forty seconds. A disproportionate number (76%) of these deaths occur in the world’s poorest countries. Our knowledge of the reasons why people die by suicide in this part of the world is severely limited, but a better understanding is desperately needed given that suicide is a leading cause of death in young people.

A huge barrier to improving our understanding is that we simply did not have good data from low and middle income countries to help us better comprehend this complex behaviour – until now. Continue reading