Improving Children’s Social Lives and Mental Health
Internalizing disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are among the most common mental disorders and extract immense personal and societal costs worldwide.
Patients suffering from these disorders are more likely to be less educated, chronically unemployed and have fewer successful relationships. For children with internalizing symptoms, negative social experiences start early on as their peers tend to reject them because of their anxious and depressive behaviour. But it remains unclear what makes those with internalizing disorders so unsuccessful in their social interactions.
Dr. Sandra Meier, Canada Research Chair in Developmental Psychopathology and Youth Mental Health, aims to better understand why patients with these disorders have limited social interactions and to find ways to improve their social lives.
Meier and her research team will use a multidimensional design that integrates objective behavioural measures, biological markers and subjective ratings to assess social interaction. This approach will help the research team identify constellations of individual risk factors that can guide personalized prevention. In addition, Meier and her team will develop interventions targeting social activity to boost mental resilience.
Ultimately, Meier’s findings will help identify the early stages of mental disorders and establish effective treatment options that will increase quality of life for children and adolescents living with these disorders.