Professor Stephan Collishaw
Personal Chair, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences
Research focuses on the area of developmental psychopathology. It encompasses a range of risks, developmental outcomes, and novel research designs. With considerable expertise in life course epidemiology , I have particular experience in analyses of complex longitudinal datasets. Main interests include adolescent depression, resilience, links between child and adult mental health, and secular trends in child mental health.
My research focuses on three main areas.
1) Mental health resilience. Many children have a high chance of developing mental health problems because they are at high familial risk (e.g. parent with recurrent depression) or because they have experienced profound social adversity (e.g. orphanhood or maltreatment). Many children in high-risk groups develop mental health problems, but some show remarkably positive developmental trajectories. Identifying protective factors that can modify the impact of risk factors is important because it can help identify new targets for prevention and intervention. My research has used longitudinal high-risk samples and prospective population cohorts to identify novel protective factors and to better understand underlying resilience mechanisms.
2) Links between child and adult mental health. Many adult mental heath problems have their origins in childhood and many childhood disorders have long-lasting effects on health and development that persist throughout the life course. Current research is examining the links between child and adult mental health in two ways: first, by examining the impact of common genetic risks early in childhood, and second, by using prospective cohort data to characterise the impact of childhood neurodevelopmental disorders on adult outcomes to mid life.
3) Time trends in child and adolescent mental health. Current research focuses on trends in children's mental health, on changes in the impact of child mental health on social and educational functioning, and on the role of antenatal and psychosocial risk factors in explaining trends in child mental health.
A variety of high-impact research focuses on historical trends in adolescent mental health, and I have recently undertaken the first purposive study of causes of mental health trends – a dedicated replication allowing comparisons of two large nationally representative samples of youth with identical measures of mental health and relevant explanatory factors.
Other research examines mental health resilience in children who have experienced adversity, including maltreatment, orphanhood, or parent mental illness. A current grant in collaboration with colleagues at Oxford University is investigating mental health resilience in a large longitudinal study of South African children orphaned by AIDS or by other causes.
Several projects focus on adolescent depression. These include the Predicting and Preventing Depression Study – a Cardiff-based longitudinal study of offspring of depressed parents funded by the Jules Thorn Medical Trust.