• About

    The world now has the largest group of young people there will ever be on the planet. How they grow during the adolescent years will affect not only their own health later in life but the contribution they will make to their societies in the future.

    The world in which adolescents are growing is changing rapidly due to globalisation, urbanisation, digital media, and more accessible education. This creates many opportunities for the health and wellbeing but also some risks. Our studies describe these changing patterns of health and growth as countries undergo major transitions economically, nutritionally, demographically and epidemiologically.


    Centre of Research Excellence for Driving Global Investment in Adolescent Health

    An Australian Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) for “Driving Global Investment in Adolescent Health” has been funded by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council from March 2020 through to March 2025. Its purpose is to generate research to drive investment in neglected areas of adolescent health including groups experiencing significant discrimination or disadvantage specifically, Indigenous young people and young people in contact with the justice system. Neglected areas include mental health, non-communicable disease risk, injury and violence and substance abuse.  

    Health Promoting Schools

    Our current suite of projects largely sit within a WHO and UNESCO new initiative of “Making every School a Health Promoting School”, a United Nations collaboration that includes UNICEF, UNFPA, UNAIDS and UNRWA. We have been engaged to review current policies and evidence, and to develop new global standards and an implementation guidance for HPS.

    Mortality After Release from Incarceration Consortium (MARIC) study

    The MARIC study is a consortium of 28 longitudinal studies from around the world, each of which has examined mortality in people after they have been released from incarceration (which includes both prison and jail in the USA).

    Prevalence of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use among young people in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTS)

    This study will estimate the prevalence of alcohol, tobacco and other drug (AOD) use among young people in Pacific Island Countries and Territories. The project seeks to address findings of the Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing which highlighted an increase in the prevalence of AOD use among young people, particularly in non-communicable disease-predominant countries.

    The health of vulnerable children and adolescent (Children deprived of liberty)

    Globally, many millions of children and adolescents are deprived of liberty in diverse settings including youth detention, adult prisons, asylum seeker detention, and notionally therapeutic settings such as inpatient psychiatric wards and drug treatment facilities. The UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty will generate much-needed global evidence and help establish the health of these vulnerable young people as a global development priority.

    The health of young people in the youth justice system

    The health burden in adolescents is concentrated in vulnerable subgroups, including those who come into contact with the youth justice system. This project takes the form of a series of 3 papers on the health of adolescents who come into contact with the youth justice system globally.

    The Lancet Standing Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing

    To maintain momentum globally and at the country level for comprehensive and integrated approaches to adolescent health and take forward the recommendations from the 2016 report and provide mechanisms for addressing the barriers to progress, the Lancet proposed a Lancet Standing Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing. Current initiatives include a Lancet series on adolescent nutrition (2021), analyses of future NCD risks (2022), analyses of injury disease burden and investment cases (2022) and a Lancet series on adolescent indigenous health (2023).

    A Second Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing

    Aimed explicitly at contributing to the UN Summit of the Future in 2024, this Second Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing seeks to ensure that today’s adolescents have the means to address the unique challenges of their generation. Professors Alex Ezeh, Russell Viner, and Sarah Baird are co-chairs of the new Commission, supported by Steering Committee members: Professor Peter Azzopardi, Professor Susan Sawyer, Dr Shakira Choonara and the late Professor George Patton and coordinator Molly O'Sullivan. 

    Past projects

    Australia-Indonesia Centre (AIC) Health Cluster

    The AIC was established by the Australian Government in late 2013 to facilitate research-driven innovation and build stronger relationships between Australia and Indonesia. It encompasses five research themes and clusters: Infrastructure, Urban Water, Health, Energy and Food and Agriculture. 

    The aim of the Health Cluster is to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through innovative approaches which address primary prevention of NCD risks in children and adolescents.

    The Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing

    The Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing was established in 2013. The Commission was a partnership of 30 of the world’s leading experts (those working in academic and technical institutions, and those at the policy/ implementation coalface) from 14 countries and two youth health advocates. Auspiced by The Lancet and led by four academic institutions: The University of Melbourne; University College London; The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Columbia University.

    Our future: a Lancet Commission on adolescent health and wellbeing was published in May 2016, and described the current understandings of adolescent health and wellbeing, the evidence base for action, and made recommendations for further action.

    Wellcome 'active ingredients' for mental health interventions

    Since 2020, Wellcome has commissioned research teams from around the world to review “active ingredients” of effective interventions for youth anxiety and depression. In 2021, the Centre for Adolescent Health was proud to have had two recipient teams. 

    1. Dr Monika Raniti, Prof Susan Sawyer and Prof George Patton were commissioned to synthesise the evidence for the role of school connectedness in the prevention of youth (14-24 years) anxiety and depression, in partnership with a youth advisory committee with lived experience of mental health promotions and the schooling system. Read more about the project
    2. Dr Shilpa Aggarwal, Prof George Patton and Prof Nicola Reavley were commissioned to review and synthesise evidence on the role of religious and spiritual beliefs in prevention, treatment and coping with difficulties in anxiety and depression in young people. The review focused on the evidence from low- and middle-income countries and was guided by lived experience consultants participating as co-researchers in the project. Read more about the project