Belfast Telegraph

Study into genetic links to mental health disorders calls for Northern Ireland volunteers

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A groundbreaking study is seeking Northern Ireland volunteers to explore the genetic links to anxiety and depression.

The Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression (GLAD) Study is a project set up to support studies exploring risk factors for depression and/or anxiety.

It is led by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Mental Health BioResource and researchers at King’s College London. Ulster University will be representing Northern Ireland in the GLAD Study which has successfully launched in England with around 20,000 people having already taken part.

Researchers are asking people from Northern Ireland who have suffered from clinical depression and anxiety to provide DNA samples so they can look for common genes.

Volunteers simply have to register at gladstudy.org.uk/ni, provide consent and fill out a questionnaire which should take around 30 minutes.

If deemed suitable for the Study based on their completed questionnaire, successful applicants will be sent a saliva collection tube for a sample to be deposited in their own time, then simply pop it in the post to be sent to the lab for analysis. It's as easy as that!

To be eligible to take part in the study, you must be aged 16 or over, live in the UK and have experienced clinical anxiety or depression at some stage in your lifetime.

The GLAD study, the world’s largest ever study of anxiety and depression, looks at the genetic sample alongside the psychosocial information participants provide through filling out the questionnaire.

All of this aims to better understand the mental health disorders to improve existing treatments or develop new, innovative treatments so that those living with depression and anxiety can have a better quality of life.

Professor Cherie Armour, Associate Dean of Research and Impact and Director of the Institute of Mental Health Sciences, said Ulster University is delighted to be taking part.

“In November 2017, the University launched a brand new Institute of Mental Health Sciences in our faculty of life and health sciences. This was essentially part of a £5million investment into mental health because of the significance of mental health for the society of Northern Ireland.

"The University is hugely committed to producing world leading research in the area of mental health sciences, and participating in this study, which is the largest study ever on depression and anxiety, absolutely aligns with the aims and objectives of our new institute of mental health sciences."

Sign up to the study in four easy steps:

1. Register at gladstudy.org.uk/ni and read the information sheet

2. Provide consent

3. Complete a 30-minute questionnaire to see if you are eligible

4. Send a saliva DNA sample through the post

Please visit gladstudy.org.uk/ni for more information on the project. The Study will be launching in Northern Ireland on February 25, along with Scotland and Wales.

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