Teenage girls sought to participate in Trinity College mental health study

Researchers are seeking 60 teenage girls aged 13 to 18 to undergo brain scans so as to investigate possible causes of mental health difficulties in adolescence.

Academics at Trinity College Dublin are carrying out a study on brain activity that will also look at coping strategies, self-criticism, and other mental health issues.

Clare Kelly, ussher assistant professor of functional neuroimaging at TCD’s Institute of Neuroscience and the principal investigator on the study, said the team was looking for 30 teenage girls who viewed themselves as having no mental health difficulties, and another 30 teenage girls who viewed themselves as having mental health concerns.

The study will be undertaken at the School of Psychology and Department of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine at TCD and will involve computerised assessments and an MRI scan.

Dr Kelly said the study hoped to look at why some teenagers might be more susceptible to depression and related health issues and what might help in addressing those concerns.

“Those with mental health difficulties — sadness, irritability, feelings of depression — they can think about and respond to difficult things in the world a bit differently,” she said. “We are trying to understand how their brain is processing that.”

She said a level of emotional upheaval was to be expected in a normal adolescence, but it was hoped the study might help in understanding what is different in young people who might go on to have serious difficulties as they get older.

She said people who have already engaged with services would be possible candidates, although anyone taking medication is excluded on the basis that it could affect the results.

Researchers have already contacted counselling support groups, including Crosscare, to advertise the study. The team will also have the use of a ‘mock’ MRI scanner so anyone taking part can get used to the idea of the real MRI scanner which will be used.

“Adolescence is a time when you focus on yourself and you are very self-critical,” Dr Kelly said, referring to coping strategies that could be used to protect mental health. “Now, with selfies and social media, there is the idea that you are always under judgment and that a lot of the time you are under more scrutiny than ever before.”

Participants will be compensated for travel expenses and will receive €20 and a picture (jpg) of their brain.

Those seeking information can email immalab@ tcd.ie, or text/call 085 8334160.

More on this topic

Standard of mental health care should not be toleratedStandard of mental health care should not be tolerated

People with complex needs end up in prison as it is only service with no waiting list, says expertPeople with complex needs end up in prison as it is only service with no waiting list, says expert

20,000 mental health appointments for children and adolescents were unattended in 201820,000 mental health appointments for children and adolescents were unattended in 2018

Ministers say new mental health support line could 'save lives'Ministers say new mental health support line could 'save lives'


Lifestyle

Want to be cultured this Christmas? From TV to podcasts to books, Ed Power has the definite list of everything you missed this year - so you can curl up on the couch and catch upThe definite list of everything you missed this year

Artist Ciara Rodgers teaches older people how to rediscover their creativity and regain confidence, says Rowena WalshBrush with art: Discovering your creative side in later life

Furniture, paintings, jewellery and silver are on offer at James Adam in Dublin, writes Des O’SullivanAll set for home run: See what's on offer at the James Adam sale in Dublin

It’s not too late to hunt out a unique gift. Des O’Sullivan previews sales in the lead-up to the festive seasonA flurry of auctions in Munster sets the scene for Christmas

More From The Irish Examiner