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Interrogating the complexity and dynamics of youth mental health among a cohort with emerging mental disorders

Abstract Description

Background: Efforts to intervene among young people with emerging mood and psychotic disorders aim to interrupt paths to chronic illness and disability. Yet a challenge for effective early intervention is the heterogeneous pattern of illness and diverse needs of young people. This study aims to interrogate the dynamics between syndromes, functioning and comorbidities over time.

Methods: The cohort consists of 1962 individuals aged 12–30 years (57% female), followed up for 3 to 24 months. They presented to the Brain and Mind Centre’s youth mental health clinics which include primary care services and more specialised services.

Results: This paper uses dynamic Bayesian networks, specifically probabilistic models represented by directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) to report on the dependence and causal structure of across five domains; social and occupational function; self-harm, suicidal thoughts and behaviour; alcohol or other substance misuse; physical health; and illness type. This work will demonstrate the putative mediators of the association between common clinical and functional outcomes among young people.

Conclusions: This paper improves our understanding about the complex interactions between common factors contributing to illness trajectories. This work has implications for the development of personalised and measurement-based mental health care that promotes targeted interventions and secondary prevention.