Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

PERL Research Group

Welcome to the PERL Research Group

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The Psychiatric Epidemiology Research across the Lifespan (PERL) Group was established by Professor Mary Cannon, a world-reknowned leader in the field of psychiatric and mental health research. Prof. Cannon, who was listed as one of the most influential researchers in the world in the Thomson Reuters The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds 2014 Report, began her research career in the field of schizophrenia research but the focus of her current research is on the prevalence and determinants of mental ill-health across the lifespan. In recognition of Professor Cannon's excellence in clinical research, she also received the 2013 Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland (RAMI) Doctors Award for Psychiatry.    

About the PERL Group 

The PERL group is made up of a multi-disciplinary team of researchers and uses a range of research approaches to explore, uncover and better understand early indicators of risk for mental disorders in adolescents and young adults. 

The group has been conducting a longitudinal study, known as the Adolescent Brain Development Study for almost a decade. That study is examining the relationships between early life experiences, brain development, mental health and well-being from adolescence to young adulthood. The group has also been involved in the Challenging Times and the HORIZONS studies of mental health in young people in Ireland. Key mental health findings from the Adolescent Brain Development and the Challenging Times studies, both of which were funded by the Health Research Board, can be found in the PERL group's The Mental Health of Young People in Ireland Report.

PERL Report Launch

Launch of the Mental Health of Young People in Ireland Report, October 2013. Pictured (L-R): Dr Mary Clarke, Prof. Mary Cannon, Prof. Fergal O'Brien, Minister Kathleen Lynch, Prof. Patrick McGorry and Helen Coughlan.

PERL policy and public engagement Activities

At PERL, we are committed to using our research findings and expertise to influence policy and to engage with the public in relation to young people's mental health.

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Most recently, Prof. Cannon was invited to join the newly established National Youth Mental Health Task Force. This task force was established in August 2016 by Helen McEntee TD, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People. The role of the task force is to consider how best to respond to the mental health needs of young people in Ireland and how to enhance access support services voluntarily at a young age.  

In January 2016, Helen Coughlan was involved in the Health Research Board Red Alert: Taboo! event in the Science Gallery. For this public event, Helen was part of a panel discussion on the issues of mental health prejudice, stigma and discrimination. She was also part of a panel discussion with Prof. Pat McGorry on advocacy in the field of youth mental health at the 3rd International Conference on Youth Mental Health in Montreal in October 2015.

Prof. Mary Cannon and Helen Coughlan are actively involved in youth mental health movement both nationally and internationally. They have been members of the ACAMH National Special Interest Group in Youth Mental Health since it was founded and have held the positions of Secretary and Chairperson respectively. Both were instrumental in the development of the International Declaration on Youth Mental Health. They were also members of the Irish consortium that successfully bid to host the 4th International Conference on Youth Mental Health in Dublin, 2017. 

PERL research report and factsheet series

PERL Report and Factsheet Images

Research report

You can download our research report on The Mental Health of Young People in Ireland which summarises our research findings on rates of mental ill-health among young Irish people aged 11-24 years.

Public information factsheets about psychosis 

1: Understanding psychosis

2: Recognising signs of psychosis

3: Talking to someone about psychosis

4: Getting help for psychosis

5: Looking after yourself when someone you know has psychosis

6: Psychotic experiences in adolescence


Factsheets for health and mental health professionals

1. Tips for supporting young people's mental health in health and social care services

2. Understanding medically unexplained symptoms: a guide for health professionals



Special youth mental health edition of the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine 

In March 2015 a special edition of the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, the official journal of the College of Psychiatrists in Ireland, was published focusing on the theme of youth mental health. Prof. Mary Cannon and Dr John Lyne were guest editors for this special edition which features the following two editorials and two original research papers from the PERL Group:



You can find a list of Prof. Mary Cannon's publications on

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