Mental health issues have largely been neglected in environmental research, but pose an increasing public health problem in Europe. This is especially true for early childhood and adolescence, as these are vulnerable developmental phases. Thus, differential exposure to physical and/or social environments during childhood may have a profound impact on an individual’s health status as an adult.
The Equal-Life project is ambitious…
The Equal-Life project is as ambitious as it is large, comprising 20 partners from 11 European countries. Between 2020 and 2025, the consortium will examine birth-cohorts of over 250 000 children from seven different countries, as well as longitudinal school data sets and cross-sectional studies from four other countries. Equal-Life’s ultimate goal is to develop a toolbox that will help evaluate the effects of physical and social environmental exposure at different levels. Results will provide a basis for new policies to prevent and/or reduce negative mental health impact on children from preconception to adolescence.
...and focused on mental health and development in children
Mental health issues have largely been neglected in environmental research, but pose an increasing public health problem in Europe. This is especially true for early childhood and adolescence, as these are vulnerable developmental phases. Thus, differential exposure to physical and/or social environments may have a profound impact on an individual’s health status as an adult.
Equal-Life will be using data from exposures, effect markers and outcomes of mental health and social and cognitive developments. Additionally, the project will contribute to the development and the subsequent utilization of the exposome concept, by
- integrating external and social exposome with biomarkers of intermediate effects. Studying a distinct set of effects on (mental) child development;
- characterizing, measuring and modelling the child’s environment at different stages and settings;
- focusing on environments that support child development, rather than negative factors (such as pollutants) only;
- combining physical and social indicators with novel effect biomarkers and using new data sources describing child activity patterns and environments which are relevant for them.
...includes data from existing studies (> 250,000 individuals) and collects new data
Equal-Life uses data from existing birth-cohorts, longitudinal school data sets and cross-sectional studies (N=>250.000), including data on exposures, biomarkers, mental health and developmental outcomes, in their social context. Also, Equal-Life will collect new data on children.
...takes the following impacts as a point of departure.
- Equal-Life seeks to innovate internal and external exposure assessment and data management:
- With specific focus on restorative environments for children;
- The approach will combine aspects of early life physical environments with social aspects of the environment;
- Focus on the sound environment, other aspects relevant for restoration (blue light, access to green, variation) and resilience (household situation, parental styles) and distribution of these environments along the social and economic gradient.
- The data collection and management will be organized in such a way that for the purpose of research as well as policy new information can easily be included.
- Equal-life is aimed at mapping the environmental health promoting/risk factors of mental health and cognitive and social development:
- By mapping the environmental features which are relevant for restoration;
- By describing the biological, psychological and developmental pathways at different developmental stages and
- By studying early markers of disturbed mental, cognitive and social development.
- While accounting for environmental sensitivities (influenced by gene activities, previous disease, or social inequalities) to answer the question which vulnerable sub groups of children have specific problems?
- Resulting in a set of interventions for different life stages.