The main ambition of this proposal is to reduce the burden of mental health problems of young children and adolescents in Europe. This is important for the children themselves and for their families, but also for the societies they belong too, in view of all COSTs involved and loss of productive working lives. The identification of risk factors, trends and determinants of developmental trajectories in mental health problems, forms the core objective.
Many mental health problems of adults, already emerge during childhood. Studies starting to follow developmental trajectories from pregnancy to infancy, early and middle childhood into adolescence and young adulthood, are definitely needed. The data of existing cohorts will be used, through a combination of seven longitudinal studies on in total 22,000 children and their families living in five European countries, Norway, Spain, Cyprus, Belgium and The Netherlands. Data were collected on temperament, personality, behaviour problems, cognitive functioning, f amily and socio-economic background,as well as on pre- and peri-natal risk factors. Some studies also included data on genetic make-up, neuro-imaging, neuro-physiology,eye-tracking studies, mother-child interaction, attachment, parental personality and ne uro-psychological or developmental tests. The developmental periods covered, vary from pregnancy, infancy, early and middle childhood, to adolescence. New data will be collected in attunement between the studies.
All of in total six work packages build upon the first, containing results of the combination of the different datasets. Four work packages focus upon the developmental trajectories of mental health problems, with the inclusion of different potential mechanisms that might explain the onset, cou rse, and outcomes of mental health problems. Another work package focusses on the design of screening instruments that include the characteristics found to differentiate the trajectories of mental health problems.