Vidi grant for research into childhood trauma, friendship and mental health
Anne-Laura van Harmelen – Professor of Professor Brain, Safety and Resilience and one of the coordinators of the Social Resilience and Security interdisciplinary programme – has received a Vidi grant from the Dutch Research Council (NWO). This talent programme will enable Van Harmelen to research the social and neurobiological mechanisms of resilience in young people with childhood trauma.
Childhood trauma, such as child abuse and bullying, is one of the strongest predictors of mental health problems in later life, such as depression, anxiety and suicide. Besides all this human suffering, childhood trauma costs our society around 4.1 billion euros per year in health care spending and sick leave, while youth care costs us 5.6 billion per year.
Anne-Laura van Harmelen: ‘My group has shown that friendships and social stress are really important for the mental well-being of young people with childhood trauma.’
Interventions do not work as well as they should
Interventions to increase resilience after childhood trauma do not work as well as they should. This is because it is unclear why some young people with traumatic experiences develop mental health problems.
‘My research has shown that childhood trauma influences brain function. And my group has shown that friendships and social stress are really important for the well-being of young people with childhood trauma. So I’m going to investigate whether and how childhood trauma is related to brain functioning, receiving social support and experiencing stress and how that affects mental health’, says Van Harmelen.
Academic and societal impact
The research could have an important academic and societal impact. The project focuses not only on open science but also on team science and will involve young people with childhood trauma in the project as advisers.
Van Harmelen hopes the research will increase public understanding of the effects of childhood trauma: ‘We hope to offer new tools for intervention and prevention and to ultimately make a positive contribution to resilience in young people with childhood trauma.’
About the NWO Talent Programme
The Dutch Research Council is one of the most important research funding organisations in the Netherlands. The NWO Talent Programme consist of three forms of funding: Veni, Vidi and Vici. These are tailored to different stages in researchers’ scientific careers. A Vidi allows researchers who have already spent several years doing research to develop their own innovative line of research, and to appoint one or more researchers for this. Find out more