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Child Mental Health and Development research areas

View the areas of research for the Child Mental Health and Development research group.


We examine key questions relating to mental health, wellbeing and development in children and young people. We focus on intervention research.

Areas of research

Depression and anxiety

Our group includes a focus on depression and anxiety in the context of development, including understanding the experiences of these difficulties for affected children and families, and investigating specific symptoms, such as fatigue in depression. We use routinely collected data from clinical services, as well as collecting data through various types of studies and doing further analysis of existing data from other sources like cohort studies and randomised control trials.

In the context of the global pandemic, Dr Maria Loades, Senior Lecturer, and colleagues conducted a rapid systematic review to answer the question of what is known about how social isolation and loneliness impacts on depression and anxiety in children and young people.

You can view the research paper and a video summary. The review found that loneliness is associated with depression and anxiety, up to 9 years later. You can access a guide for parents, teachers and practitioners about what loneliness is, how to spot it, and what can help.

Trauma and adversity

We study mental and physical health in children who experience trauma and adversity, identify factors that influence those outcomes, and test interventions designed to promote better adjustment following trauma.

We work with a range of groups, right from those exposed to one-off accidental traumas to children who experience chronic adversity and abuse. We study both UK and international populations.

Neurodevelopmental conditions

We're interested in a range of neurodevelopmental conditions and their links with co-occurring health conditions. These include:

  • Developmental Language Disorder
  • Autism
  • ADHD
  • Developmental Prosopagnosia
  • Pathological Demand Avoidance
  • Schizophrenia

For example, we look at the long term consequences of growing up with Developmental Language Disorder, a common neurodevelopmental disorder affecting 7.6% of children. We investigate the causal pathways between early language disorder and increased rates of social, behavioural and mental health conditions, evaluating mediating factors that may be amenable to early intervention in order to reduce long term adverse consequences.

Physical health and pain

We study children, young people and families affected by symptoms like pain and fatigue. Our work includes studying the relationships between physical symptoms and mental health and the way these symptoms impact on functioning in addition to the wider social context in which pain and fatigue is experienced.

Antisocial behaviour

We investigate the role of biological and social factors in the aetiology of antisocial behaviour in children and adolescents. This involves using neuropsychological or neuroimaging approaches to understand individual-level factors that contribute to risk for developing antisocial behaviour and aggression, such as facial emotion recognition difficulties and changes in brain structure or function.

We are also dedicated to understanding the role of environmental factors in shaping risk pathways to antisocial behaviour (such as, maltreatment, parenting, teacher-child interaction), and the translation of models of risk and resilience into school and family-based interventions.

Our research examines individual differences in presentation, risk and outcomes for antisocial behaviour, including gender and temperament (callous-unemotional traits).


Our forensic research focuses on child maltreatment and family violence, including risk assessment, early institutionalisation and long-term outcomes (such as psychopathology, emotional regulation, resilience). We have developed a particular focus on technology assisted (online) child sexual abuse, both from victim and offender perspectives, working with police and national charities.

Genetic and epigenetic

We aim to understand the genetic and epigenetic correlates of mental health across the life course. Using large-scale biological resources, we study how gene by environment interactions shape our mental well-being early on and influence healthy ageing in later life.

Our work is interdisciplinary incorporating novel methods from several disciplines including developmental psychology, (epi-)genetic psychiatry and neuroscience.

Eating disorders

Our research investigates eating disorders and a number of related areas such as body image and weight stigma. We are primarily interested in understanding key developmental risk factors for these and related concerns, and developing and evaluating prevention, early intervention, and treatment interventions. We conduct research in schools, community, online, and clinical settings; work with children, adolescents, and adults; and adopt a range of quantitative and qualitative methods.


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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