The Cardiff University Mood and Wellbeing Study
This study, also known as the Early Prediction of Adolescent Depression (EPAD) study, aims to improve understanding of the causes of young people’s mental health.
We also aim to develop evidence-based methods of early intervention and support for people experiencing mental health challenges – with a particular focus on difficulties with low mood and depression.
In General Practice, tools that predict physical health problems are used routinely. We plan to use the results of this study to develop similar tools not currently available for mental health. These sorts of tools will help to ensure that people most in need receive the support and care they need.
The study includes 337 families from across the UK where an individual has been affected by low mood. It is currently the largest study of its type in the world. Since it started in 2007, families have taken part in interviews and a range of other assessments three times when the young people were teenagers.
The study is unique because it has followed families throughout their lives and listened to and documented the ups and downs for over ten years. This type of study enables a thorough understanding of the causes and consequences of low mood and resilience to depression. As well as contributing to the expertise and knowledge of depression nationally and internationally, our research ultimately aims to help those individuals affected by mental health and their families.
The Medical Research Council has funded a fourth phase of research (2017-2020) enabling us to revisit all families and follow the young people into their adult life.
Our findings so far
Thanks to the families taking part in our study over the last ten years, we are beginning to understand the causes of mental health difficulties as well as positive mental health. We have made many important scientific discoveries and published over 50 reports in scientific journals to date, as well as over 100 papers about depression. You can find these papers on the profiles of our researchers.
A snapshot of some of our most important scientific findings includes identifying factors that promote mental health resilience in young people as well as those that predict the onset of mood problems. Another finding suggests different types of adolescent depression. On a more practical level, several families in our study have contributed to the development of an online package to help young people and their families manage low mood.
The development of this package has been led by Dr Rhys Bevan Jones at Cardiff University. The package is currently being tested in a randomised controlled trial of young people experiencing low mood in a project funded by the National Institute for Health Research.
Take part in our research
Understanding the causes of low mood and depression, and identifying who might be more likely to develop difficulties before problems arise, helps us create better ways to support people and prevent early problems from escalating into something more serious. Taking part in our study is an incredible way to help achieve this and without your help research like this wouldn’t be possible.
Families are usually contacted by the University to organise participation. However if you have taken part in the study previously and would like to arrange taking part in this current phase, please get in touch.
Get in touch
Our team is based at the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, a centre of excellence for mental health research.
Collaborators and advisors
We are working closely with Dr Jon Heron (Bristol University), who is providing expert advice on longitudinal trajectory analysis, and Professor David Osborn (UCL) who will provide expert analysis in individual risk prediction analysis as the study progresses.
Dr Robert Potter, Dr Amani Hassan, Dr Rhys Bevan-Jones and Dr Judith Allardyce are clinical advisors on the study.
Alice Stephens, Bryony Weavers and Jessica Lennon are at the core of our research team, visiting and interviewing families to speak to them and track the changes in their lives over the past few years.
Emma Meilak looks after the administration of our project and is the key point of contact for all our families participating in the study.
National Centre for Mental Health - the NCMH website has a dedicated depression section, including details on research, suggested reading and links to medication information.
Mind - information and support along with downloadable leaflets and real people's stories. Search 'depression' from the homepage.
Samaritans - available 24 hours a day to provide confidential emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts.