Two Murdoch Children's Research Institute led projects have been awarded grants that aim to improve the mental health of young people.

The Wellcome Trust's Active Ingredients for Youth Anxiety and Depression Commission is supporting research projects that will review the evidence-underpinning aspects of interventions that prevent, treat or manage youth anxiety and depression in those aged 14-24 years.  

Each of the 21 commissioned teams will review the evidence for 'one active ingredient', to present an insightful analysis of what the evidence says about how effective that approach is in helping young people

Dr Monika Raniti, Professor Susan Sawyer and Professor George Patton's project will review the role of school connectedness in youth anxiety and depression in partnership with a youth advisory committee.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised the importance of schools for supporting youth mental health globally," Dr Raniti said. "Social-emotional environments can have profound effects on mental health, so a sense of connection to school life may help prevent and manage anxiety and depression in young people." 

Dr Shilpa Aggarwal and Professor Patton along with the University of Melbourne's Professor Nicola Reavley will review the role of religious and spiritual beliefs in preventing and treating anxiety and depression in consultation with young people with a particular focus on low- and middle-income countries. 

"We're interested in exploring the various aspects of spirituality and religion such as the extent to which the person feels at peace /centred, is able to find meaning in times of hardship and feels good about the direction of their life and understanding how this impacts mental health as adolescents develop," Dr Aggarwal said. 

The commissions aim to find the next generation of treatments and approaches for youth anxiety and depression, which may help inform future research in this area. Research shows 75 per cent of people with a mental health problem develop it before the age of 24 years.