Nick Allen

nick allen

Nick Allen, PhD

Ann Swindells Professor, Psychology
Practice Areas: Clinical Psychology, Youth Mental Health, Adolescent behavioral and brain development, Family processes, Prevention Science, Digital technology and mental health

Throughout the lifespan there are certain developmental transitions that appear to be particularly important for determining a person’s mental health. The transition from childhood to adolescence is especially important, as many serious mental health problems, such as depression and substance abuse, emerge for the first time during or after this transition. In Allen's group, researchers use a developmental psychopathology approach to understand how children and adolescents are affected by the environments in which they grow up.

Members of the group have especially focused on how family interactions and other aspects of the child’s environment that have been shown to increase risk for mental health problems (e.g., stress, abuse, socio-economic disadvantage) influence the child or adolescent’s emotional functioning and the development of the biological systems that undergird these emotions.

The aim of this work is to not only shed light on the underlying causes of mental health and ill-health during these stages of life, but also to inform developmentally targeted approaches to prevention and early intervention, including studies focusing on sleep, parenting, and teen sexual and romantic relationships as modifiable risk factors for poor mental health. Through the Center for Digital Mental Health the group's work focuses on using mobile and wearable devices, and social media, to unobtrusively track and analyze behavior in order to detect mental health needs and provide adaptive, personalized interventions exactly when users need them.