LHA Programme 7: Lifetime determinants of mental health & wellbeing and their associations with physical health & ageing

Lead Research Organisation: MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing

Abstract

Mental health problems are common in the general population, and can result in severe, disabling conditions, and even premature death. On the other hand mental wellbeing is an important component of successful ageing, and, like cognition, is associated with physical capability in many ways. Work on mental health in the British 1946 birth cohort during 2008-9 has largely focused on two major areas. The first is on consequences of mental health. We found that adolescent conduct problems are related to poor life chances, including unemployment, low wages, divorce, teenage pregnancy, and risk of offending; work to investigate adolescent conduct and emotional problems in relation to premature death is currently in progress. This links to the second major focus, on links between mental health and physical and cognitive capability. Physical disease and mental disorder can trigger each other in several ways, and both can be caused by a common factor, or set of factors, such as genes and lifetime social conditions. Work in this area currently involves links between mental health and, for example, weight gain and loss, hypertension and diabetes, and, as noted, premature death.

Technical Summary

Mental health problems are common in the general population, and can result in severe, disabling conditions, and even premature mortality. Conversely, mental wellbeing is an important component of successful ageing, and, like cognition, is associated with physical capability through multiple complex pathways. Work within Programme 7 during 2008-9 has largely focused on two major areas, both of which are specified goals of this programme in the LHA Scientific and Strategic Plan 2008-2013. These areas are functional consequences of mental health, and integration of mental health with cognition and physical health.| Regarding functional consequences of mental health, in 2009 we completed a cross-cohort project on adolescent mental health in relation to labour market attainment, partnership and family formation, and wider social roles (see www.scmh.org.uk). We showed that adolescent conduct problems in particular have negative long-term consequences for life chances, but also that adolescent conduct and emotional problems have long-term continuities with adult common mental disorder (largely anxiety and depression). One possible mechanism prolonging such lifetime risk is life-changing reaction to stressful events, which new work shows is associated with future common mental disorder. The most extreme consequence of mental health problems is premature mortality, and new work on this in relation to adolescent conduct and emotional problems is currently underway. This links to the second major current focus of Programme 7, the integration of mental health with physical and cognitive capability. In regard to physical health, nearly all physical diseases are associated with psychiatric disorders, particularly common mental disorder. This is because physical and mental problems have specific bi-directional causal associations; because these associations can be mediated by health behaviours; and because common cause factors, from genetic pleiotropy to lifetime social conditions, have a parallel impact on mental health and long-term risk of chronic physical disease. Work in this area currently involves testing associations in NSHD between lifetime mental health profiles and early growth and adult BMI trajectories, between these mental health profiles and risk of the metabolic syndrome, and, as noted, between conduct and emotional problems and premature mortality. In regard to cognition, studies completed in 2009 show that lower childhood cognition is associated with adolescent neuroticism and with increased reporting of sub-clinical psychotic symptoms in midlife; in addition we will begin work in the latter half of 2009 to test genetic pleiotropy and other common cause processes that link cognition and risk of common mental disorder across the life course (with Programme 2).

Publications

10 25 50

 
Description Consequences of Mental Health
Amount £25,000 (GBP)
Organisation Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Title new wellbeing and mental health database for NSHD 
Description new wellbeing and mental health database for NSHD cleaned and ready for scientific use 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of Data/Biological Samples 
Year Produced 2011 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact forthcoming publications 
 
Description Collaborations on mental health NES 
Organisation King's College London
Department Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have an ongoing scientific collaboration with key NSHD collaborators in these 2 groups. Scientific lead for study design for a particular project can vary. Involves doctoral or post doctoral supervision, NSHD data sharing, analysis, interpretation, drafting and revising of papers.
Collaborator Contribution Development of LHA/NSHD mental health research programme
Impact Publications (not otherwise specified under other collaborations involving these collaborators): Richards M, Goldberg D. Are there early adverse exposures that differentiate depression and anxiety risk? In: Goldberg D, Kendler KS, Sirovatka P, Regier DA (eds). Diagnostic Issues in Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Refining the Research Agenda for DSM-V. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association 19131382 19379961 18827297 18295901 17976252 17692292 17202554 17487877 16777388 16880486 16734949 16393365 18378866 PMID 25066933 Colman et al PMID 24357583 Byford PMID 26835144 Tikhonoff New award, with Richards as co-investigator: Harmonisation of mental health measures in British birth cohorts. (PI: G Ploubidis, UCL). ESRC. June 2018-July 2019. Total value: £72,918.80
Start Year 2006
 
Description Collaborations on mental health NES 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have an ongoing scientific collaboration with key NSHD collaborators in these 2 groups. Scientific lead for study design for a particular project can vary. Involves doctoral or post doctoral supervision, NSHD data sharing, analysis, interpretation, drafting and revising of papers.
Collaborator Contribution Development of LHA/NSHD mental health research programme
Impact Publications (not otherwise specified under other collaborations involving these collaborators): Richards M, Goldberg D. Are there early adverse exposures that differentiate depression and anxiety risk? In: Goldberg D, Kendler KS, Sirovatka P, Regier DA (eds). Diagnostic Issues in Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Refining the Research Agenda for DSM-V. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association 19131382 19379961 18827297 18295901 17976252 17692292 17202554 17487877 16777388 16880486 16734949 16393365 18378866 PMID 25066933 Colman et al PMID 24357583 Byford PMID 26835144 Tikhonoff New award, with Richards as co-investigator: Harmonisation of mental health measures in British birth cohorts. (PI: G Ploubidis, UCL). ESRC. June 2018-July 2019. Total value: £72,918.80
Start Year 2006
 
Description Childhood mental health and life chances in post-war Britain 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Publication of a booklet examining the long term consequences of childhood and adolescent mental health problems for a wide range of economic and social outcomes.

Raised the understanding about the importance of mental health as a policy issue and how it impacts lives.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description HALCYon Project Summary Brochure 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A plain english brochure was created which summarised the main findings from the HALCyon research programme. It has been disseminated to study members, on our website and the New Dynamics of Ageing website and at conferences.

Increased awareness of the findings from the HALCyon programme and the cohorts that were used within this research programme
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description HALCYon book launch 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact A book launch was arranged to promote the findings from the HALCyon research programme

Shared knowledge of the HALCyon findings which were published in a book 'A life course approach to healthy ageing'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description NDA findings brochure 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The New Dynamics of Ageing programme which funded the HALCyon programme created a findings document summerising the results of the HALCyon programme which was distributed to their local networks

Increased awareness of the HALCyon findings and a life course approach to healthy ageing. Increased awareness of longitudinal studies and the cohorts that were involved in HALCyon
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014