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Professor Stephan Collishaw

Professor Stephan Collishaw

Personal Chair, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences

School of Medicine

+44 (0)29 2068 8436
2.20, Hadyn Ellis Building, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ


My research takes a lifecourse developmental approach to study common mental health problems including depression and anxiety.  I use prospective population and high-risk cohorts to study the development of mental health problems across childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. I am interested in protective factors that promote mental health resilience in high risk children and that optimize long-term outcomes. My research also examines population-level change in young people's mental health, and tests which factors explain the recent increase in youth anxiety and depression.
























I teach and mentor undergraduate medical students, offer a number of medical Student Selected Component projects focused on child and adolescent mental health and supervise research projects for the intercalated Psychology and Medicine degree and School of psychology placement students.

My research focuses on the following main areas.

1) Developmental life course mental health research. Adult mental heath problems have their routes in childhood, and childhood disorders typically have long-lasting effects on health and development. My research uses prospective longitudinal data to examine the links between child and adult mental health in variety of ways; for example, by examining risk exposures and early symptom manifestations that precede mental ill health and by characterising the impact of childhood mental health problems on later adult outcomes.

2) 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), because of early neurodevelopmental vulnerability, 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 outcomes. Identifying modifiable protective factors that can optimize mental health outcomes for high-risk children is important because it can help identify new targets for prevention and intervention. My research uses longitudinal population and high-risk studies to identify novel protective factors, to better understand underlying resilience mechanisms, and to provide answers on how best to optimize lifelong outcomes.

3) Time trends in child and adolescent mental health. My long-standing research in this area focuses on secular trends in young people's mental health using unselected population-based cohorts. This focuses on tracking prevalence trends, on changes in the long-term outcomes for children with mental health problems, and on reasons that explain (or not) trends in mental health. Key findings are that youth anxiety and depression have become substantially more common, that children with mental health problems today fare less well socially and educationally, and have a poorer mental health prognosis, and that social mental health inequalities have increased.

4) Mental health in schools. New research is aiming to understand the interplay of genetic and environmental risk and protective factors that shape children's mental health and wellbeing. I lead a new MRC funded study, Mental wellbeing in Adolescence: Genes and Environment Study (MAGES), that aims to promote mental health research in schools. We aim to engage young people, their parents and schools in mental wellbeing research in order to advance our understanding of youth mental health and in order to help promote positive mental health in schools.

Selected publications:

  • Sellers R, Warne N, Pickles A, Maughan B, Thapar A, Collishaw S (2019) Cross-cohort change in adolescent outcomes for children with mental health problems. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, in press.
  • Collishaw, S., Furzer, E., Thapar, A. K., & Sellers, R. (2019). Brief report: a comparison of child mental health inequalities in three UK population cohorts. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, in press.
  • Riglin, L., Collishaw, S., Richards, A., Thapar, A. K., Rice, F., Maughan, B., ... & Thapar, A. (2018). The impact of schizophrenia and mood disorder risk alleles on emotional problems: investigating change from childhood to middle age. Psychological medicine, 48(13), 2153-2158.
  • Mahedy, L., Harold, G. T., Maughan, B., Gardner, F., Araya, R., Jones, R. B., ... & Collishaw, S. (2018). Resilience in high-risk adolescents of mothers with recurrent depressive disorder: The contribution of fathers. Journal of adolescence, 65, 207-218.
  • Eyre, O., Langley, K., Stringaris, A., Leibenluft, E., Collishaw, S., & Thapar, A. (2017). Irritability in ADHD: Associations with depression liability. Journal of Affective Disorders, 215, 281-287.
  • Riglin L, Collishaw S, et al (2017). Schizophrenia risk alleles and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood: a population-based cohort study. Lancet Psychiatry, 4, 57-62.
  • Rice F, Sellers R, Hammerton G, Eyre O, Bevan-Jones R, Thapar AK, Collishaw S, Harold GT, and Thapar A. (2017). Antecedents of new-onset major depressive disorder in children and adolescents at high familial risk. JAMA Psychiatry 74, 153-160.
  • Collishaw S, et al (2016). Mental health resilience in the adolescent offspring of parents with depression: a prospective longitudinal study. Lancet Psychiatry. 3, 49-57.
  • Sellers R, Hammerton G, Harold GT... & Collishaw, S. (2016). Examining whether offspring psychopathology influences illness course in mothers with recurrent depression using a high-risk longitudinal sample. Journal of abnormal psychology, 125(2), 256.
  • Hammerton G, Zammit S, Mahedy L, Pearson RM, Sellers R, Thapar A, & Collishaw, S. (2015). Pathways to suicide-related behavior in offspring of mothers with depression: The role of offspring psychopathology. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(5), 385-393.
  • Collishaw S. (2015). Annual Research Review: Secular trends in child and adolescent mental health. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56, 370-393.
  • Maughan, B., Collishaw, S., & Stringaris, A. (2013). Depression in childhood and adolescence. Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 22(1), 35.
  • Thapar A, Collishaw S, Pine DS, Thapar AK. (2012). Depression in adolescence. The Lancet, 379, 1056-67.
  • Collishaw, S., Maughan, B., Natarajan, L., & Pickles, A. (2010). Trends in adolescent emotional problems in England: a comparison of two national cohorts twenty years apart. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51(8), 885-894.
  • Pickles, A., Aglan, A., Collishaw, S., Messer, J., Rutter, M., & Maughan, B. (2010). Predictors of suicidality across the life span: the Isle of Wight study. Psychological Medicine, 40(9), 1453-1466.
  • Collishaw, S., Goodman, R., Ford, T., Rabe‐Hesketh, S., & Pickles, A. (2009). How far are associations between child, family and community factors and child psychopathology informant‐specific and informant‐general?. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50(5), 571-580.
  • Collishaw, S., Pickles, A., Messer, J., Rutter, M., Shearer, C., & Maughan, B. (2007). Resilience to adult psychopathology following childhood maltreatment: evidence from a community sample. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31(3), 211-229.
  • Collishaw S, Maughan B, Goodman R, Pickles A (2004). Time trends in adolescent mental health. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 1350-62.


Current supervision

Thomas Broughton

Research student

Research links