Finding the next generation of mental health treatments and approaches

There are many approaches that are making a difference in preventing, treating and managing anxiety and depression in young people (14-24) around the world. However, what we know about what works, for whom, in what contexts and why is limited. There is little consensus in the mental health field on what makes the approach effective. We want to change this.

Since 2020, we have commissioned research teams from around the world to review the evidence for different approaches believed to help prevent, treat and manage anxiety and depression in people ages 14 to 24.

We refer to the methods that make a difference as “active ingredients.” These active ingredients are the building blocks of what is likely to make a difference in preventing or treating youth anxiety and depression. They are diverse and interrelated, and include biological, cognitive, relational, and societal approaches.

For example, we know that enhancing social contact can help those who suffer from depression. However, we lack evidence regarding how best to increase social contact and how this might differ for different people in different cultural contexts. We are only beginning to understand why social contact influences its positive effects (for example, through influences on thought processes, or through changes at a neurobiological level). Understanding these factors will help us develop better ways to prevent or interfere with depression.

To date, we have funded research into more than 40 active ingredients that we have grouped into six topics. Although it does not represent an exhaustive list of all the possible active ingredients, the authorized reviews give us an overview of the state of the science.

A brief report on this research is available for download.

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