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Key Publications

Welcome to the YMH Lab's Key Publications page, where we invite you to delve into the forefront of mental health research. Our commitment to advancing the understanding and treatment of mental health is reflected in these key publications, each representing a milestone in our journey towards a healthier world.


Association between sports-related concussions and the risk of self-injury thoughts and behaviors: Who, and under what circumstances?


April, 2024

Understanding the association between sport-related concussions and the risk of suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury thoughts and behaviors (SITBs), including non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), suicidal ideation (SI), suicidal plan (SP), and suicidal attempt (SA), is crucial for suicide prevention. We aimed to identify the circumstances in which individuals with or without a concussion are vulnerable to SITBs.

Our study revealed that individuals who suffered concussions exhibited a significantly higher risk of SITBs.


Can digital self-harm relate to suicidal thoughts and behaviors beyond physical self-harm?


Jan, 2024

Digital self-harm (DiSH) is a recently identified self-harm distinct from physical self-harm (PSH, also known as non-suicidal self-injury, NSSI). Although prior research has shown that DiSH was associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs), it was still unclear whether DiSH has a unique association with STBs after controlling for PSH. A cross-sectional survey was conducted on Chinese college students. Our findings suggest that DiSH has a unique association with the risks of STBs beyond PSH. Early identification and intervention for DiSH are crucial, even for individuals who already engage in PSH.


The transition trajectories of self-injurious thoughts and behaviours among children from a biopsychosocial perspective


Mar, 2024

Short video addiction, a specific type of internet addiction, has emerged as a significant problem among youth today. The high prevalence of co-occurring mood problems, such as depressive symptoms, in individuals with short video addiction poses additional challenges for treatment. However, the extent to which these symptoms interact, predict each other, and further maintain the problems remains unclear. Therefore, this study employed cross-lagged panel network analysis to reveal the directional network structure between the co-occurrence of short video addiction and depressive symptoms in a sample of 1163 Chinese youth. By disrupting any interconnectedness between short video addiction and depressive symptoms, we can avoid the progression or escalation of co-occurring issues, leading to more effective and comprehensive treatment outcomes.


Brain structural and functional signatures of multi-generational family history of suicidal behaviors in preadolescent children


Dec, 2023

Parent-child transmission of suicidal behaviors has been extensively studied, but the investigation of a three-generation family suicide risk paradigm remains limited. In this study, we aimed to explore the behavioral and brain signatures of multi-generational family history of suicidal behaviors (FHoS) in preadolescents, utilizing a longitudinal design and the dataset from Adolescent Brain and Cognitive DevelopmentSM Study (ABCD Study®), which comprised 4 years of data and includes a total of 9,653 preadolescents. Our results provide compelling longitudinal evidence at the population level, highlighting the associations between multi-generational FHoS and maladaptive behavioral and neurodevelopmental outcomes in offspring. These findings underscore the need for early preventive measures aimed at mitigating the familial transmission of suicide risk and reducing the global burden of deaths among children and adolescents.

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The transition trajectories of self-injurious thoughts and behaviours among children from a biopsychosocial perspective


Sep, 2023

Although self-injurious thoughts and behaviours (SITB) among children pose an imminent public health concern, the comprehensive understanding of SITB transitions remains unclear. Here we used the longitudinal data of 7,270 children from the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive DevelopmentSM Study (ABCD Study). Our study extends prior cross-sectional investigations by elucidating the temporal precedence of specific biopsychosocial factors, underscoring their potential predictive significance in SITB occurrence. Early identification of these factors holds great promise for targeted prevention, addressing the pressing public health concerns associated with SITB.

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Ecological Momentary Assessment and Machine Learning for
Predicting Suicidal Ideation


Sep, 2023

This article aims to figure out what extent does the analysis of daily data encompassing mood fluctuations and contextual stressful events effectively predict short- and long-term suicidal ideation in sexual and gender minority individuals. 

The of 103 individuals aged 18 to 29 years found that using 25-day ecological momentary assessment yielded acceptable prediction performance on 1-, 3-, and 8-month suicidal ideation. The prediction effect of feelings faded over time, while the prediction effect of contextual events remained strong.

The findings suggest a promising future for detecting suicide ideation over time through the analysis of data on specific types of mood fluctuations and contextual events within a few days.

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Aug, 2023

Childhood trauma has been identified as a risk factor for self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (STBs), but the roles of different types of childhood trauma have not been clarified. The current study aimed to explore the association between different childhood trauma experiences and STB profiles.  Our results indicate that exposure to childhood emotional abuse increase the risk for all types of STBs, which calls for special attention in future suicide prevention and intervention programs. Our findings further imply possible roles for different subtypes of traumatic experiences to trigger different SBTs, which warrant future exploration.


Process model of emotion regulation-based digital intervention for emotional problems


Sep, 2023

To address the lack of mental health practitioners in developing countries, the current study explored the feasibility of a newly developed self-guided digital intervention program TEA (training for emotional adaptation) in alleviating depressive and anxiety symptoms, as one of a few studies which adapted from theoretical models with effective intervention techniques.

The current study provides preliminary evidence of the effectiveness of TEA, with the potential to address the urgent need for remote mental health services to address the current needs for digital mental health intervention programs to account for the insufficient availability of mental health services in China,


Aug, 2023

To combat the pressing issue of contemporary suicide rates, an effective Life Gatekeeper training program was developed to educate school teachers in identifying and intervening with at-risk students. Two single-arm sequential studies evaluated the program’s effectiveness, spanning implementation science stages from design to refinement.  In conclusion, both delivery methods proved effective, particularly the practical application of the TTT version, although further research is warranted to examine long-term effectiveness of the program.

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Development of the Life Gatekeeper suicide prevention training programme in China: a Delphi study


Aug, 2023

Youth suicide has been a pressing public mental health concern in China, yet there is a lack of gatekeeper intervention programmes developed locally to prevent suicide among Chinese adolescents. Aims The current Delphi study was the first step in the systematic development of the Life Gatekeeper programme, the first gatekeeper programme to be developed locally in China that aims to equip teachers and parents with the knowledge, skills and ability to identify and intervene with students at high risk of suicide. This Delphi study provided an evidence base for developing the first gatekeeper training programme systematically and locally in China. We hope that the current study can pave the way for more evidence-based suicide prevention programmes in China. Further study is warranted to evaluate the effectiveness of the Life Gatekeeper training programme.


June, 2023

In this randomized clinical trial, we investigated the efficacy of an online solution focused brief therapy (SFBT) for adolescents' anxiety symptoms during the COVID-19 period. Eligible participants were between the ages of 11 and 18 years, scored a 10 or above on the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7). The results found that compared to adolescents who did not receive any treatment, the intervention yielded significant results in alleviating adolescents’ anxiety and depressive symptoms while promoting problem oriented coping strategies at immediate post-intervention. The therapeutic benefit has persisted, as shown in our results from the 1-month follow-up.

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The effect of interoceptive awareness as the underlying mechanism between anxiety and NSSI behaviors


July, 2023

The association between anxiety symptoms and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) behaviors requires further clarification. We aimed to examine the potential indirect effect of three dimensions of interoceptive awareness. The effect of study variables on lifetime NSSI behaviors was initially tested on 5281 participants, and then the indirect effects were further clarified among individuals with NSSI behaviors. We found that emotional awareness and body listening exerted opposing indirect effects on the frequency of NSSI behaviors. Future preventive intervention programs should focus on enhancing individuals' abilities to integrate their body and emotions, as this has been strongly highlighted.


Associations of bullying perpetration and peer victimization subtypes with preadolescent’s suicidality, non-suicidal self-injury, neurocognition, and brain development

April, 2023

This study explored the neurobiological mechanisms behind peer victimization, bullying, and preadolescent development. Using data from the ABCD Study, researchers examined how different types of victimization and bullying are associated with suicidality, executive function, memory, brain structure abnormalities, and network disturbances. The study highlights the need for tailored interventions involving all stakeholders to mitigate the negative effects of bullying on preadolescent well-being.


A national transgender health survey from China assessing gender identity conversion practice, mental health, substance use and suicidality


April, 2023

Gender identity conversion practice (GICP) refers to attempts to change an individual's gender identity to align with societal expectations based on assigned sex at birth. This study analyzed data from the Chinese Transgender Health Survey, including 7,576 respondents from mainland China. Findings indicate that GICP is associated with increased risks of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, non-suicidal self-injury, and alcohol use. Those who experienced professional GICP reported more suicide attempts. GICP has particularly severe effects on mental health among TNG individuals aged ≤17. The study highlights the damaging impact of GICP and emphasizes the need for public awareness.


Non-suicidal self-injury in Chinese population: a scoping review of prevalence, method, risk factors and preventive interventions


May, 2023

Non-suicidal self-injury behavior (NSSI) is a serious public health concern that requires immediate attention. Despite the high prevalence of NSSI among the Chinese population, there is a significant gap in research on the comprehensive picture of this field. Therefore, a scoping review was conducted to investigate the prevalence, methods, risk factors, and preventive intervention programs related to NSSI in China. These findings underscore the necessity for more clinical practices and larger studies to identify effective interventions and ultimately alleviate the burden of NSSI on the Chinese population.

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Analysis of Psychiatric Symptoms and Suicide Risk Among Younger Adults in China by Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

March, 2023

Question  Do transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) and sexual minority younger adults in China experience worse mental health and suicide risk than their cisgender heterosexual peers, and what are risk factors within TGNC and LGB groups? 
Meaning :The findings of this study suggest there is an imperative need to improve mental health and prevent suicide among Chinese LGB, transgender, or queer or questioning younger adults.

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Blind box over-engagement and suicide risk among adolescents and young adults: Results of a large-scale survey

July 2022

Gambling is known to be a significant risk factor for suicide in the global young population. Blind boxes, which are randomly packed collectible toys, share similarities with gambling and are popular among young people. This study is the first to investigate the link between blind box engagement and suicide risk in the young population, who are the primary consumers of blind boxes. Our findings showed that blind box over-engagement is positively associated with suicide risk in both young males and females, and this association persisted after adjusting for influencing factors.


A multicomponent digital intervention to promote help-seeking for mental health problems and suicide in sexual and gender diverse young adults: A randomized controlled trial

March, 2023

Sexual and gender minority community's higher susceptibility to worse mental health outcomes and more help-seeking barriers compared to the cis-heterosexual population. Despite the LGBTQ+ population facing higher mental health risks, there has been a dearth of research focusing on developing tailored interventions targeting them. The current intervention was an effective approach in promoting help-seeking intentions, mental health literacy, and help-seeking encouragement-related knowledge.


A qualitative study of how self-harm starts and continues among Chinese adolescents

December, 2020

The aims of this study are to understand the motivations for initiating and repeating nonfatal self-harm, the different methods used between first-time and repeated self-harm and the reasons that adolescents do not seek help from health services. We found that nonfatal self-harm among adolescents occurred comparatively early and was often triggered by specific reasons. However, the subsequent nonfatal self-harm could be causeless, with repeated self-harm becoming a maladaptive coping strategy to handle daily pressure and negative emotions.


Changes in network centrality of psychopathology symptoms between the COVID-19 outbreak and after peak

September, 2020

This study examined the changes in psychopathology symptoms during and after the COVID-19 outbreak. A total of 2540 participants were recruited from February 6 to 16, 2020, and 2543 participants were recruited from April 25 to May 5, 2020. Network models were created to explore the relationship between anxiety and depression symptoms. Network models were created to explore the relationship between anxiety and depression symptoms.


Dec, 2021

Transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) individuals are at a high risk of adverse mental health outcomes due to minority stress—the stress faced by individuals categorised as stigmatised social minority groups. This systematic review sought to summarise the key mental health findings of the research on TGNC individuals in mainland China. We also aimed to consolidate research on the topic, identify specific mental health disparities, and offer new perspectives for future research to inform both policy and clinical practice. Overall, two qualitative and 28 quantitative articles were identified. Political and social implications are also discussed to inform a standard set of guidelines for transgender-inclusive health-care services, including advocating for funding to create these special care programmes and services.


Oct, 2020

In this article, we talked abou few gaps in the field of mental health, inlcuding that mood disorders are among the leading causes of disability across all age groups; High quality brain imaging data is providing a better understanding of brain mechanisms underlying shared symptoms, heterogeneity, and atypical development of mood disorders; Such data could allow development of precision biomarkers for mood disorders; The benefits of a cognitive neuropsychological model could be harnessed to predict treatment outcomes


Effect of the NMDA receptor partial agonist, d-cycloserine, on emotional processing and autobiographical memory

May, 2020

The aim of the present investigation was to assess the effect of DCS on emotional processing in healthy volunteers and to further characterise its effects on emotional and autobiographical memory. We found that DCS did not significantly affect the FERT, EMEM and FDOT performance but significantly increased emotional memory and classification for positive words v. negative words. Also, DCS enhanced the retrieval of more specific autobiographical memories, and this effect persisted at 24 h.


Bullying victimization, bullying witnessing, bullying perpetration and suicide risk among adolescents: A serial mediation analysis

August, 2020

Bullying victimization, bullying witnessing, bullying perpetration and suicide risk among adolescents: A serial mediation analysis. Given the urgent need to reduce the high suicide rate among adolescents in China, our findings suggest that having a less negative coping style is an important protective factor.

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