Investigating the mechanisms that underlie the associations between health-related behaviours and psychopathology


  • Dr Wikus Barkhuizen

    University College London, United Kingdom

Project summary

One in six children and adults experience serious mental health problems in England. Health-related behaviours, like physical activity, sleep quality, and smoking or alcohol drinking levels, are associated with mental health and may reduce or protect against symptoms. However, the underlying reasons for these associations are poorly understood. I will investigate the degree to which genetic influences may explain the underlying reasons why mental health and health-related behaviours are associated, as well as how health-related behaviours are transmitted from parents to their children to affect children's mental health. I aim to confirm causal relationships between health-related behaviours and mental health problems. To answer these questions, I will use innovative statistical methods that use mental health measures and genetic information from large family studies. These findings will indicate whether support is best aimed at healthy lifestyles in general or rather specific health-related behaviours, and whether to focus on individuals or families.