November 24, 2017

Posted by:

A new IDEA for identifying depression early in adolescence

By Dr. Valeria Mondelli.

Improving young people’s mental health across the world is the aim and vision of a new project launched by a team of experienced researchers earlier this year.

IDEA – Identifying Depression Early In Adolescence – started from very simple but important observations: every young person around the world deserves quick and easy access to mental health care, but nine out of 10 adolescents with depression live in a country without readily available youth mental health services.

IDEA was formed during a workshop organized by mental health charity MQ which supports research to improve the understanding, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses.

The project was designed by researchers from different backgrounds, with different skills, and aims to analyse research and data about social and family environment, stressful experiences, brain images, and biological data of 10-24 year olds from four different countries – the UK, Brazil, Nigeria and Nepal. By combining data from across the globe the IDEA team hope to find universal and context-specific risk factors for depression in young people.

In the long term, the work conducted through IDEA will help to improve access of adolescents to services to detect risk for depression, intervene early, and improve the quality of life during youth and throughout adulthood, regardless of where they live.

Millions of people globally lose out on educational, economic, and social opportunities because of depression that starts during adolescence. Every year, more than 150 young people in Great Britain and more than 300,000 young people in low and middle income countries (LMICs) die by suicide.

As principal investigator, I worked alongside Helen Fisher from the UK, Christian Kieling from Brazil, Abiodun Adewuya from Nigeria, Rakesh Karmacharya and Johnna Swartz from the USA, and Brandon Kohrt working both in USA and Nepal.

The IDEA global approach will assure that these methods to detect depression are not limited to youth living in wealthy countries. We are dedicated to generating scientific knowledge that is applicable to youth in high as well as in low and middle-income countries, where 90% of the world’s youth live.

With the IDEA project, we aim to generate data that will in the future enable health professionals (e.g. general practitioners and nurses) and school counselors to identify at an early stage which adolescents are at high risk of developing depression and provide them with support to prevent the development of this disorder.

The IDEA project will officially start in April 2018. If you are interested in learning more about the IDEA project, you can visit the IDEA project page here. Or contact Dr Valeria Mondelli (Principal Investigator of the IDEA project) email: valeria.mondelli[at]

Additional information:

The IDEA team is a global team of researchers, dedicated to finding new ways to identify young people at risk for depression. Our team includes researchers from diverse scientific fields including neuroscience, cell biology, immunology, epidemiology, anthropology, and psychiatry.

Our work and project aims to transform how young people at risk for depression are identified by combining information from the social and family environment, biological tests of the body’s ability to fight off disease and control inflammation, and images of how the brain processes experience.

For more, follow IEPA Network on Twitter and LinkedIn.