In a modern, 21st-century globalized society, mental health is affected by a number of unprecedent and fast-moving challenges. In particular three major categories of factors are thought to deeply affect mental health in our age:
Socioeconomic inequalities are increasing
Socioeconomic inequalities are increasing, in many countries, especially in developing nations. These inequalities are known to be a major predictor of a wide range of mental health issues. People on the low end of these inequalities face conditions that make them more vulnerable to several emotional disorders and they face obstacles to achieve an optimal brain health.
Societies are ageing
The proportion of people over 60 years is increasing in most countries, and people are living and working until a much older age. Although this can bring many benefits to a society (e.g. wisdom & expertise), this also means that the incidence of ageing-related mental health issues is more prevalent. These issues can range from “normal” cognitive ageing to more serious issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Mental health issues linked to loneliness, frailty and reduced mobility are also extremely important to understand and manage.
Societies are becoming more complex
Several dimensions of human society are changing at a speed that remains unprecedent in human evolution, and that may have a significant impact on global mental health. For instance, the very fast urbanization, a digitalization of society, the ubiquity of technology, the increasing complexity of personal finance, environmental changes, and the emergence of global stressors are changing the way we think, and they are creating new challenges to our mental health.
Our research group aims at understanding how these factors affect contemporary mental health in our societies using a variety of different research methods from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and public health.
An ultimate goal of our research is to also generate potential solutions to how mental health and well-being can be enhanced, with a focus on societies from developing countries. For instance, a focus of interest of our group is to understand what lifestyle choices and occupational interventions can optimally facilitate healthy ageing in South-East Asian communities.