New study into mood-dysregulated teens’ nutrition funded $150,000

14 May 2020

According to government reporting, increasing numbers of New Zealand adolescents struggle with mental health issues. In response, a new University of Canterbury study will test whether better nutrition can help ease the burden of mental illness for youth aged 12 to 18.

  • Julia Rucklidge

    University of Canterbury Psychology Professor Julia Rucklidge has received a Health Research Council (HRC) Explorer Grant to carry out novel research.

According to government reporting, increasing numbers of New Zealand adolescents struggle with mental health issues. In response, a new University of Canterbury study will test whether better nutrition can help ease the burden of mental illness for youth aged 12 to 18.

University of Canterbury Psychology Professor Julia Rucklidge has received a Health Research Council (HRC) Explorer Grant to carry out this novel research with a community-based randomised controlled trial.

The research project, titled A community-based RCT evaluating micronutrients for mood dysregulated teenagers, has been funded $150,000 over two years. It will be conducted entirely online with the development of a study app, launching in early 2021.

Professor Rucklidge’s new study is one of 17 Explorer Grants announced today by the Health Research Council worth a combined total of $2.55 million. The HRC grants support innovative and transformative research, and are an example of cutting-edge, higher-risk investment.

Professor Rucklidge’s Te Puna Toiora: Mental Health and Nutrition Research group aims to find nutritional interventions that are effective in treating psychiatric/psychological illness.

More about the study:

A community-based RCT evaluating micronutrients for mood dysregulated teenagers:
The Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health & Addiction, He Ara Oranga, revealed increasing numbers of adolescents in New Zealand struggle with mental health issues. Although current political focus is on expanding access to talking therapies, there are not enough psychological resources to meet the demand, nor has access to conventional treatments reduced the burden of mental illness. One novel approach is nutrient intervention, given the growing association between poor diet and poor mental health; however, it is not always realistic to manipulate diet, particularly in teenagers. Research over a decade has demonstrated efficacy in using micronutrients to treat psychiatric symptoms, but we need to explore whether coupling this approach with technology can expand reach, reduce cost and be a more acceptable way to address mental health problems. This study aims to engage 150 mood-dysregulated youth (12-18 years) via an on-line app we will develop and randomise them to micronutrients or placebo for 8 weeks to establish efficacy.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Professor of Clinical Psychology Julia Rucklidge, University of Canterbury, College of Science, julia.rucklidge@canterbury.ac.nz, Phone: +6433694398

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