Child & Youth Mental Health

Professor James Scott

Group Leader, Head of Mental Health Program 

The Child and Youth Mental Health Research Group conduct research with a particular focus across four areas.

The first are studies of the causes and consequences of mental ill-health and suicidal behaviour in children and young people. This enables the identification of factors that influence mental health in childhood and adolescence. Modifying these factors can prevent the onset of mental illness and improve the wellbeing of children and adolescents.

The second research area addresses bullying victimisation and perpetration in school-aged children. Bullying victimisation is associated with mental illness and poor academic performance.

The third is psychoneuroimmunology. Our research in this area has demonstrated the interplay between the nervous system and the immune system where we have shown some people have psychosis arising from inflammation in the central nervous system.

The fourth research area focuses on clinical trials and health service research. These studies evaluate the effectiveness of innovative treatments for young people at risk of or living with, mental illness and the outcomes following the implementation of clinical services and lifestyle support for young people living with mental illness.


  • Higher Risk of Autoimmune Psychosis Study: A study validating the clinical criteria for autoimmune psychosis
  • Cadence Trials: Interventional (cannabidiol and sodium benzoate) and observational studies of psychosis in young people
  • Lifestyle Interventions: Lifestyle factors, such as exercise and nutritional intake, are related to physical and mental health outcomes for people with mental illnesses. Our research focuses on the implementation and evaluation of state-wide service models to improve lifestyle factors for adults and young people with mental illnesses and research into person-centred behaviour change interventions.
  • Studies of maltreatment in childhood: These studies will provide the most comprehensive information on maltreatment of Australian children to inform future policy and programs to keep children safe.
  • Bullying Prevention and Intervention Studies: Being bullied by peers places children and adolescents at heightened risk for ongoing mental illness. Our research focuses on the development and evaluation of family interventions to protect adolescents from bullying, by strengthening their emotional resilience and relationships.
  • Decision-making in psychosis: These studies are focused on the relationship between psychotic symptoms and problems with decision-making. Particularly how we can identify which young people with early psychosis will develop these cognitive impairments.
  • Youth self-harm and suicide prevention studies: first study on the regional variability of self-harm and suicide attempts, and their related risk and protective factors, in Australian adolescents. The findings will have strong translational value as they will identify priority youth suicide prevention targets in distinct geographic regions, and provide evidence that will inform targeted, local prevention efforts.


External Collaborators

  • Professor John McGrath, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research
  • Dr Holly Erskine, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research
  • Professor Harvey Whiteford, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research
  • Professor Jake Najman, School of Public Health, University of Queensland
  • Professor Matthew R Sanders, Parenting and Family Support Centre, University of Queensland
  • Professor Ben Mathews, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology
  • Professor Ed Heffernan, School of Public Health, University of Queensland
  • Dr Stefan Blum, Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland
  • Dr David Gillis, Queensland Pathology, Queensland Health
  • Associate Professor Judith Greer, Centre for Clinical Research, University of Queensland
  • Associate Professor Dan Siskind, Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland
  • Professor Paul Amminger, Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne
  • Professor Barnaby Nelson, Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne
  • Professor David Lawrence, University of Western Australia
  • Professor Philip Batterham, Australian National University
  • Dr Antti Mustonen, University of Oulu, Finland
  • Professor Rosana Pacella, Institute for Lifecourse Development, University of Greenwich

We gratefully acknowledge the support from the following funding agencies:

  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Medical Research Future Fund
  • National Institute of Health (USA)
  • Australian Research Council
  • QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
  • Suicide Prevention Australia
  • Pivotal Ventures (USA)
  • Wellcome Trust (UK)
  • Brain & Behaviour Research Foundation (USA)
  • Brisbane Diamantina Health Partners