Terrie E. Moffitt, Professor of Social Development at King’s College London and Nannerl O. Keohane University Professor of Psychology at Duke University, brought a wealth of mental health knowledge to Brigham Young University.
Moffitt, a clinical psychologist known internationally for her research in human development, gave the 2022 Marjorie Pay Hinckley Lecture at BYU on Thursday.
His presentation, titled ‘Mental health surprises revealed by tracking 1,000 people for decades’, summarized some of his findings from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study and illustrated the effects of the disease. mental illness in 1,000 babies, all born in 1972 in New Zealand. , throughout their lives.
Mental health assessments were carried out on the 1,000 babies repeatedly throughout their lives, and now that these babies have reached middle age, the Dunedin study has produced some interesting results.
Surprisingly, Moffitt’s research found that mental disorders affect virtually all babies at some point in their lives, and those with an early onset of mental illness were more likely to have a variety of disorders throughout their lives. life.
“My team has had the rare opportunity to follow the same 1,000 people for several decades now, and one surprising thing we’ve learned is that the same person goes in and out of different mental disorders throughout their lifetime,” said Moffitt. “If you ask how many people have mental illness today, like just a snapshot at any given time, that seems rare. But, if you follow the disorders as they unfold over decades of people’s lives, you will find that many people suffer from mental disorders, they are not as rare as we all thought.
Moffitt also said those who racked up more mental disorder diagnoses earlier in life had an increased risk of physical illness later in life and aged more rapidly.
“People with mental disorders will age faster and younger, they will also have less ability to manage their health,” Moffatt said.
Moffitt’s recommendation for the treatment of mental illness in the future is not to treat individual mental disorders one at a time, but rather to look at the big picture and teach individuals, especially those in early adulthood the skills needed to manage stress and maintain physical and mental health.
“Of course it’s really important to address the presenting symptoms to provide relief to the patient,” Moffitt said. “But on top of that, we can’t stop there. We should also ask ourselves how can I help my patients ward off future troubles? By teaching skills to cope with stress and stay healthy, and these are skills that transcend any particular diagnosis.
The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Lecture is an annual event where the Endowed Chair in Social Work and Social Sciences sponsors a distinguished scholar to visit BYU and share their research.