Youth-GEMs

Youth-GEMs

Youth-GEMs 12th Science Café

Youth-GEMs 12th Science Café

A fully packed Science Café with many Young Experts from Euro Youth Mental Health and researchers from various Youth-GEMs work packages. We give you a short recap!

 

First guests were Sanne Berkers (PhD researcher at the Binder Lab at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany) and Anna Wiersema (PhD researcher Translational Neuroscience in the group of Prof. Dr. Jeroen Pasterkamp at UMC Utrecht, the Netherlands). They informed the Young Experts about biomolecular mechanisms of mental health and risks associated with environmental impact.

They explained: there is an interaction between genetic risk factors and environmental factors. Environment can affect the readability of the genetic code. It doesn’t alter the DNA code, but adds ‘pins’ to DNA which can have an effect on reading the genetic code (epigenetics). How people differ in response to stress is the focus of their investigation. The stress hormones can affect a lot in the body, including the brain. Sanne and Anna are studying this in the lab via cell cultures. Of course human brain is not accessible (not alive). Instead they use cells in culture. They can expose these cells to different things: give them stress hormones, edit their genome, put in variations in the DNA or make sure the code is not readable to see if there is an effect on stress. By engineering these cells they can study the functionality of a genetic mutation in various cell types.


Next, Laura Giani and Margherita Lagamba who work at Ab.Acus in Italy were present to talk about app design. In Youth-GEMs, we are developing a mobile app for the assessment and monitoring of mental health in young people. This app will be used inside a clinical trial which will be based in 6 different clinical centrals around Europe. The app is part of a youth- and clinician-empowering digital system for mental health. It will collect data from sensors in the mobile phone (including voice recording and movement). The collected data will be sent to the participant and researcher.

 

Active collaboration between end users with lived experience and technical experts is important. In previous editions of the Science Café, researchers and Young Experts collected a lot of input for the (design of the) app. As we are now entering the testing phase Young Experts are shown how the app looks and works. Logging in, personalization, permissions, privacy and tools to track wellbeing are discussed.

 

Some remarks and questions of the Young Experts during this Science Café:

  • What about youth with visual impairment? Can they use the app in the future?
  • Is it possible to insert a reminder of what will be done with the recording of someone’s voice in the app?
  • People express emotions differently. How does this relate to voice recording?
  • Is there a feature to connect the app to your smartwatch to track your sleep?
  • Be aware of words like ‘sick’ or ‘disease’ and always bear in mind that you have a person in front you.
  • More empathy and more room for the differences between people is needed.
  • Mental illness is not always seen as illness, but like ‘you can work it out, you’re sad’. It might help people understand that there is something in your brain that makes you work differently. You’re not just being sad.

 

 

Want to find out more about our Science Cafés and clinical studies within Youth-GEMs? Visit www.youth-gems.eu. Euro Youth Mental health is a non-profit organization run by young volunteers who aim to improve mental health support for young people across Europe. More information about their work can be found at www.eymh.org.