Mental health trajectories are shaped by genetic, cognitive, social, and environmental factors that are particularly influential during human development. How exactly the interplay between these factors is impacting mental health, however, is yet unknown. The project “Gene Environment interactions in Mental health trajectories of Youth (Youth-GEMs)”, funded by the European Commission under the Horizon Europe programme, aims to help reducing mental suffering among European youth.

How do Youth-GEMs contribute to bettering mental health in young people?

Youth-GEMs aims to identify specific neurological, (epi)genetic and environmental drivers on mental health trajectories of young people. To do so, the project is working on a public knowledge base on functional genomics of the developing human brain, between birth and 24 years old. Reliable predictive models for trajectories of onset and course of mental illness in young people of the general population in Europe will be developed. Additionally, a secure and FAIR data infrastructure in mental health is being produced.

Engaging and empowering young people

Youth-GEMs is also working on the engagement of young people in the scientific field of Psychiatry. For that, the project is developing initiatives such as Science Café, intended to create a learning community where ideas and stories are shared. The 10th Science Café will take place today, with the participation of Lauren Fromont from the EGA.

How do the EGA contribute to Youth-GEMs?

The contributions require careful data management and harmonisation: we are dealing with an extraordinary amount of data types, sources, and time points (since the studies are longitudinal). To analyse them together and to determine which factors and interactions are truly key to account for mental health trajectories, the variables need to be transformed in a common “language”, i.e., harmonised under a common data model. Further, to guarantee FAIRness of data storage and sharing for future projects that will further advance our knowledge in the mental health field, we are ensuring that data are processed securely but can also be discovered easily.

Find out more information about the project in the Youth-GEMs website.