Studying early environmental quality and life-course mental health effects, Horizon 2020
Equal-Life studies the long-term effects of a range of environmental exposures during childhood on mental health and cognition. Exposure indicators of both the physical and social environment are included. Examples of the former are air-, noise- and water pollution, access to restorative environments, features of the built environment, but also exposure to household chemicals, passive smoking, diet, and screen time. At the social end, examples are parenting styles, psychosocial stress, a range of socio-economic factors, living conditions, social support, social media use. The effects of combined exposures are studied at different ages and linked to age specific time activity patterns and places. The key health outcomes of mental health and cognition are further defined as Mental illness (based on the International Classification for Diseases (ICD) ), Well-being (based on positive mental health, i.e. feeling well), and Quality of life (based on life satisfaction). Cognitive effects not only pertain to school achievement, but also to executive function, memory, attention and oral and written language functions. Combined exposures, effects and mediating processes are studied in 11 cohorts and school studies, using targeted and non-targeted machine learning approaches. By enriching the data in cohorts and school studies with newly collected and modelled data, Equal-Life provides insight into the mental health aspects of physical and social exposures hitherto untapped. Based on these insights, a set of interventions will be developed and piloted at city level. Interventions and best practices will be included in a tool and a guidance document primarily aimed at local policies in Europe, thus contributing to healthier environments for European children.