We focus on:

  1. Preventing pathways to depression and anxiety (internalizing behaviours)

  2. Preventing pathways to addiction and violence (externalizing behaviours)

  3. Promoting pathways to wellbeing and global citizenship (positive development)

We work across three unique populations of children and young people:

  1. Those in the general population (preventive mental health care)

  2. Those with backgrounds of social trauma and disadvantage (trauma and mental health care)

  3. Those living with neurodevelopmental challenges (clinical mental health care)

Our research areas

SEED is the only research program of its kind across Australia with a focus on promoting mental health and preventing mental disorders across the entire lifecourse; from early childhood to adulthood and into the next generation.

Experiences in early emotional life have a seminal role on social development and mental health. We know that every age and stage matters in building wellbeing, and that confidence in holding both positive and painful emotion is essential for emotional security, exploration and personal growth across the lifecourse.

SEED’s researchers and research students specialise in preventive mental health care and clinical treatment of mental health problems across a suite of research areas.

Lifecourse sciences

Deakin University hosts more than 20 of Australia’s longest running cohort studies, the oldest within SEED now spanning three generations, followed over 40 years, since 1983.

Our cohort studies span the continuum of care, from universal prevention, to selective and indicated prevention, to treatment and continuing care. Collectively, across all our cohort studies, we track more than 20,000 people, making us one of the largest, lifecourse epidemiology groups in Australia.

Intervention sciences

SEED responds to the findings of our cohort studies by building tailored preventive and clinical mental health care interventions where there are known gaps in evidence-based practice. The SEED Intervention Science Program has now grown to include 23 randomised controlled trial evaluations of new interventions that address known early lifecourse risk and protective factors. These new interventions are designed to address knowledge gaps across the continuum of care.

Social neurosciences

SEED has an active program of neurodevelopmental research that includes 16 separate studies spanning the continuum of care, from public health to clinical intervention. This research investigates how the social context gets ‘under the skin’ to shape pace-of-aging or brain systems related to social cognition, language and memory. We are advancing research in developmental epigenetics, as perhaps the key biological mechanism through which the environment can shape brain development.

Molecular sciences

The molecular sciences research theme works to understand how the experiences you have had in your life shape the way your genes work and, ultimately, the length and quality of your life. We compare markers of your body’s age to your calendar age to understand the natural history of aging and find opportunities to promote wellbeing throughout the lifecourse.

Systematic reviews

By synthesising evidence on effective mental health interventions, SEED’s systematic review hub supports research into mental health promotion and mental disorder prevention by identifying strengths and gaps in the scientific literature. The systematic review library is an evolving repository of vital research.

Public mental health care

SEED’s public mental health stream works to prevent mental disorder and promote emotional health for all. We work closely with communities to implement monitoring systems and interventions in sustainable ways and invest in promoting emotional health in the general population.

Data Sciences

SEED encompasses advanced data analysis capacities. Our data sciences lead innovation in analysing complex data collected from research activities including observational studies to lab-based tasks and intervention studies. We develop digital healthcare solutions to promote good mental health and help people with mental health problems.

Explore data sciences

Living Knowledge System

The Living Knowledge System assembles information from both cohorts and trials to provide the best possible evidence base for enhancing population monitoring and targeted population intervention.

In collaboration with A2I2, Deakin Library and Deakin COMS, SEED is improving our living knowledge system, which includes enhanced human-app interfaces, accelerated screening capability, improved auto-populating of tables, and an improved google scholar interface.

Be a life-changing thought leader in the prevention of mental disorders

A PhD or Masters opportunity with SEED will set the scene for you to go deep into world-leading research in the vital area of mental health. Be part of a supportive and vibrant research environment that is committed to making a difference in many people’s lives.

At its core, SEED is about bringing research to life in communities in ways that promote a healthy emotional life from early life to old age.

Alfred Deakin Professor Craig Olsson

Director of the Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development

Our research leaders

Our researchers and research students specialise in preventive mental health care and clinical treatment of mental health problems. Many of our members are registered psychologists. All researchers have extensive knowledge about social and emotional development.

Alfred Deakin Professor Craig Olsson, Director

Professor Craig Olsson works to map the major milestones in human development, using this research to inform the design of targeted mental health interventions in both clinical and public health settings.

Associate Professor Rebecca Giallo, Deputy Director

Associate Professor Rebecca Giallo leads a productive lifecourse epidemiological and clinical intervention research program. It’s focused on optimising the mental health of children and families affected by social adversity and intergenerational trauma.

Featured projects

SEED is undertaking a number of flagship projects to understand the early origins of mental health disorders. We collect data and samples from people over the course of years, decades and even generations and use that evidence to develop new interventions and resources and inform policy.

The comprehensive monitoring system

The comprehensive monitoring system

The comprehensive monitoring system is a series of eight surveys that tracks the mental health and wellbeing of young people up to the age of 21. Participating communities receive comprehensive reports and access to a free database of evidence-based programs for responding to the outcomes  identified in the reports.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation in autism

Transcranial magnetic stimulation in autism

We are recruiting volunteer participants for the first large-scale clinical trial to test whether transcranial magnetic stimulation – a painless, non-invasive treatment already widely used to treat depression – can be effective in improving social communication and mental health in your people with autism.

Systematic review library

Systematic review library

Systematic reviews help us make sense of an ever-growing body of scientific literature. Our systematic review library hosts all reviews published by researchers in the Deakin University School of Psychology. We focus on identifying gaps in research on social and emotional development across the early lifecourse.

Our partners

SEED has strong national and international networks of collaborators who work with us on jointly funded research, data analysis and research publications.

We partner with:

  • health providers
  • education providers
  • government
  • industry
  • research organisations.

Contact us

Stay in touch to hear about the latest alumni opportunities, research news, partnership opportunities, and much more.

Have a question? Get in touch with the team: seed-admin@deakin.edu.au

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