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Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development

Dr. Christina Haag & Dr. David Bürgin are among the first recipients of the 2024 PRC Seed Grants

We are very pleased that one of the Seed Grants 2024 awarded by the UZH Population Research Center has been awarded to a joint team from the Jacobs Center and the Institute for Implementation Science in Health Care.

Seed Grant

Recent population-based research has identified a rise of mental health problems in young people, often referred to as the ‘youth mental health crisis’. Accordingly, new insights on risk and protective factors in mental health development are urgently needed to understand the perspectives, concerns, and aspirations of young people today. One aim to achieve this aim is to ask young people directly and to then use mixed-method approaches to analyze their answers.

Traditionally, population-based research has relied heavily on quantitative measures, sidelining text data due to the time-intensive nature of such analyses. However, advancements in natural language processing (NLP) have transformed language analysis, allowing for efficient extraction of themes and emotions from extensive text data. Despite these breakthroughs, the integration of text and quantitative data in longitudinal population research remains largely unexplored. Yet, this holds potential for nuanced large-scale analyses of individual narratives in conjunction with conventional quantitative measures.

This project aims to showcase how insights into youth mental health can be enhance when seamlessly incorporating text assessments into longitudinal population research (compared to relying solely on standardized quantitative assessments). We will analyze qualitative text data from the prospective-longitudinal Zurich Project on the Social Development from Childhood to Adulthood
(z-proso, PIs: Prof. Manuel Eisner, Dr. Denis Ribeaud, Prof. Lilly Shanahan) which investigates psychosocial development from childhood into adulthood. Specifically, this project will examine life events that adolescents and young adults deem highly significant. In doing so, the project will assess the emotional tone of these events, and aim to understand how such events evolve from adolescence to young adulthood. Additionally, the study will examine the worries and hopes about the future that young adults report, and how these hopes and worries, in turn, are associated with current mental health.

Co-led by early career researchers Dr. David Bürgin from the 'Risk and Resilience' research group at the Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development and Dr. Christina Haag from the Digital & Mobile Health Group at the Institute for Implementation Science in Health Care, this PRC seed grant aims to contribute new insights into risk and protective mechanisms in mental health development by leveraging population-based text-data with natural language processing.