PhD project: Adolescent mental health and cognitive development in the SCAMP cohort: investigating multifactorial pathways to better understand

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: School of Public Health


One in six 15-19 year-olds in the UK show symptoms of mental illness, with half of adult mental illness manifesting during adolescence, a time of mental vulnerability. Importantly, the reasons for this are not well understood. SCAMP is a prospective adolescent cohort study (current average age 15), established to investigate whether digital social environments are associated with cognitive, behavioral, educational, physical and mental health outcomes during adolescence. SCAMP participants are representative of the general school population across London in terms of age, gender, socio-economic status and ethnicity.

The SCAMP study has collected a rich array of data on social, educational, hormonal, environmental and lifestyle risk factors on mental and physical health during adolescence. The principal aim of this studentship is to investigate specific scientific questions such as: (A) to examine the relationships between adolescent's digital social environments and mental health, including the interplay with physical health, physical activity, sleep and adiposity; and (B) to examine the complex inter-relationships between pubertal hormone profiles, and cognitive factors such as cognitive control, emotional reactivity and mentalising, to further our understanding of both mental health resilience and vulnerability during adolescence. Given that peer relationships in digital social environments, together with other factors, are critical to the developing adolescent brain, this is an exciting opportunity to undertake analysis investigating multifactorial pathways to better understand the development of mental health resilience and vulnerability during adolescence. Within this project, there is scope for the student to focus in on the aspects of most interest to them.


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