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REACH: Risk, Resilience, Ethnicity and AdolesCent Mental Health

Project description

Unravelling psychosis in minority populations

Incidence rates of psychotic disorders are disproportionately high in migrant and minority ethnic groups across countries. The lack of targeted public health initiatives to address this issue is rooted in limited understanding. In response, the ERC-funded REACH project aims to explore the developmental origins of psychosis in these populations. By employing an innovative accelerated cohort study of adolescents in south London, REACH seeks to provide insights and propose effective prevention strategies. Specifically, it will recruit, assess and closely follow three school-based cohorts of adolescents aged 11-14, totalling 2 760 individuals. By collecting data on psychotic experiences, socio-environmental risk and protective factors, as well as psychological and biological mechanisms, the project aims to break new ground in understanding the elevated rates of psychosis.


The overarching aim of REACH is to examine groundbreaking questions on the developmental origins of psychosis in migrant and minority ethnic populations using a highly innovative accelerated cohort study of adolescents, to be conducted in south London (UK). It has been known for over 50 years that the incidence of psychotic disorders is high in many migrant and minority ethnic groups across many countries. Our seminal study (AESOP) on this, for example, found that incidence rates were 3 to 6 times higher in black Caribbean and black African populations in the UK than in the white British. There have, however, been no public health initiatives specifically designed to tackle this problem – this is a public health tragedy. In part this inaction is due to a limited understanding of why rates of disorder are elevated. This points to an urgent need for research that can shed light on why the incidence of psychosis is so high in some populations and, more importantly, provide information on how and when to intervene to reduce risk. In seeking to do this, REACH will break new ground. To achieve these aims, REACH will use highly innovative methods to recruit, assess and follow at one and two years 3 overlapping school-based cohorts of adolescents aged 11-12, 12-13 and 13-14 years (total sample, 2,760; 552 of whom will be assessed more intensively). Collection of data on a) psychotic and other experiences of emotional distress, b) socio-environmental risk and, uniquely, protective factors, and c) psychological and biological (HPA axis related) mechanisms, will enable REACH to examine cutting edge questions about the developmental origins of psychosis. REACH is an ambitious study that, critically, seeks to explain (not just document) ethnic differences and in doing so provide concrete proposals for prevention strategies and interventions to reduce risk of psychosis and other poor mental health outcomes during adolescence, a key developmental stage, in diverse ethnic groups.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 999 776,00
WC2R 2LS London
United Kingdom

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London Inner London — West Westminster
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 999 776,00

Beneficiaries (1)