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Child and adolescent psychiatry

Young teenage boy

We are working to conduct and promote high quality research into neurodevelopmental disorders and mental health problems in young people.

1 in 10 young people suffer from a mental health disorder. Most adult neuropsychiatric disorders also originate in childhood.

Our aims are to conduct research that will improve prevention, enhance resilience and create evidence to inform new interventions and policy.

Our research focuses on neurodevelopmental disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders as well as common mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.

We use longitudinal population epidemiology, clinical and high-risk designs and work in close collaboration with the Developmental Group within the School of Psychology.

Our Research

Our research in child and adolescent psychiatry covers three key areas:

Child neurodevelopmental disorders

Neurodevelopmental Disorders are typically childhood-onset conditions but many adults are also affected. Examples include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders.

Our research examines the causes of child neurodevelopmental disorders, including how genes and environmental factors (e.g. prenatal risks such as preterm birth) work together.

We examine the life-long consequences of these disorders and address questions that are important to practice.

We conduct this research by involving participants affected by these disorders as well as investigating UK population cohorts.


Our epidemiology research examines patterns and trends in the prevalence of childhood mental health and neurodevelopmental problems.

Our studies look at changes over time in the numbers of children experiencing mental health problems, the causes of these changes, and why some groups appear more or less likely to develop problems.

We also examine the impact of mental health risk factors on health and resilience in the general population from childhood to adult life.

Adolescent depression

Our research in this area examines the causes of depression in young people, and investigating how early depression develops and can be prevented.

We have also worked to help develop clinical tools around adolescent depression, including an online screening tool that can help to spot some of the warning signs and a psycho-education package for young people.

Theme lead

Professor Anita Thapar

Professor Anita Thapar

Professor, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences

+44 (0)29 2068 8478