Understanding the causes
of mental illness

Mental disorders result from the interaction of our biology, our social and natural environments, our psychology, and our life histories.

Solving this complex puzzle requires the use of sophisticated research methods, and the collaboration of teams across the World.

Our research team uses the latest tools in genetics, neurosciences and epidemiology to understand how different factors can increase or reduce our vulnerability to experience mental health issues. Our knowledge of the causes of mental illness has considerably improved over the last decades. The puzzle is coming together, piece by piece!

Access some of our research

What causes psychosis? An umbrella review of risk and protective factors

This study by Dr. Joaquim Radua and colleagues explores the strength of the evidence behind different risk factors of psychosis, by conducting a type of analysis called an ‘umbrella review’. This is the first umbrella review of risk and protective factors for psychotic disorders.

High-potency cannabis and the risk of psychosis

In this study, Dr. Marta Di Forti and colleagues found that using high-potency forms of cannabis (‘skunk’) from an early age can significantly increase the risk of developing psychosis. This has important implications for the mental wellbeing of young people, who are often exposed to drugs from a very early age.

Meta-analysis of associations between childhood adversity and hippocampus and amygdala volume in non-clinical and general population samples

In this study, Maria Calem and colleagues found that being exposed to childhood aversity (e.g. physical, emotional or sexual abuse) can be associated to changes in hippocampal volume. These results allow us to better understand how our life experiences can impact our brain and increase our risk of experiencing future mental health issues.