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Our mission is to promote the healthy mental and physical development of children and their families around the globe, irrespective of their life circumstances. Our work focusses on development in the face of adversity, including perinatal mental health difficulties, life threatening conditions such as HIV and cancer, and situations of violence, war and poverty.

Mother and child

Our observational and experimental studies aim to understand the mechanisms underlying children’s development, and the impact of risk factors on child and family outcomes. We use this to create effective and deliverable interventions to support children, families and healthcare professionals.

"Virtually every aspect of early human development from the brain’s evolving circuitry to the child’s capacity for empathy is affected by the environment and experiences that are encountered in a cumulative fashion, beginning in the prenatal period and extending throughout the early childhood years… Investing in disadvantaged young children is a rare public policy initiative that promotes fairness and social justice and at the same time promotes productivity in the economy and in society at large." J. Heckman, Nobel Laureate, Science, 2006.

Our team

Subgroups

  • Communication with Children about Life Threatening Conditions

    One of the most daunting challenges is to tell a child that they or their parent has a life threatening condition. Our work focusses on developing evidence based guidelines to empower healthcare professionals, parents and children to navigate these emotionally difficult conversations.

  • Hedonia: Trygfonden Research Group

    Professor Morten L. Kringelbach heads Hedonia: Trygfonden Research Group, a transnational research group based at Oxford and Aarhus Universities.

  • Mental Health Services for Vulnerable Children

    Professor Mina Fazel’s work focuses on improving access to mental health services for vulnerable child populations (such as refugees) and developing school-based mental health services.

Recent studies

  • Insika Yomama

    Perinatal depression is very common amongst HIV-positive women, with up to 40% of HIV-positive mothers in parts of southern Africa being affected. Insika Yomama is a treatment trial to evaluate an intervention for depressed HIV-positive women in the perinatal period to enhance child development and reduce maternal depression.

  • Child Development and Adult Social and Human Capital: COHORTS

    The COHORTS collaboration (Consortium On Health Outcomes Research in Transitioning Societies) comprises five of the largest and longest running birth cohort studies in LMICs; Brazil, Guatemala, the Philippines, India and South Africa.

  • Digital delivery of Behavioural Activation to overcome depression and facilitate social and economic transitions of adolescents in LMICs (DoBAt)

    Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and it is particularly problematic among adolescents given the risk for greater depression chronicity across the lifespan. Untreated depression exerts a huge economic toll as it impairs cognitive functioning, interpersonal relationships, interferes with schooling and disrupts work and productivity.

  • OPT Study

    The effect of persistent postnatal depression on children is a major public health issue; the economic costs associated with perinatal mental disorders on child development are substantial with an estimated £8·1 billion per year in the UK alone. The OPT study tested whether a specific parenting intervention improves child outcomes when compared with an intervention not focused on parenting, in a setting where both groups also receive treatment for persistent postnatal depression.

  • SPOCCL

    The arrival of a new baby can be an exciting yet vulnerable time for parents; particularly so when a baby has a craniofacial anomaly. Supporting Parents Of Children with Cleft Lip (SPOCCL) is a research study looking at how best to provide extra support to families who have a baby with a cleft lip in the first few weeks of their baby's life.

Announcements

  • In the news

    The work of our group has been reported by news agencies around the globe.

  • Graduate Students

    We welcome graduate students from a wide range of disciplines including medicine, neuroscience and psychology. The resources of the Department of Psychiatry, Oxford centre for Human Brain Activity and the University of Oxford provide a wide-range of training opportunities.

Related research themes