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What is the FAMILY project about?

The FAMILY consortium is a five-year interdisciplinary, multi-site project, involving 16 partners from Europe and the US. FAMILY focuses on mentally-ill persons and their families, and aims to improve their lives. That is, FAMILY first tries to better understand why, how, and when mental illness is likely to pass from parent to child. By studying families, i.e., their biological characteristics, their behaviour, and their environment, and combining all this information using advanced statistics, FAMILY secondly aims to build models to predict who will or will not develop mental illness within the course of three years.

Although helpful, such risk prediction models for mental illness come with important issues that need careful attention, such as the right not to know and this risk of stigma. These will also be addressed in FAMILY. Additionally, FAMILY will implement communication strategies that aim to translate our findings to society, to empower citizens of all ages and throughout their life. Increased awareness and knowledge about transmission of risk from parent to child will support vulnerable families in taking an active role in the self-management of their own health. Together, findings from the FAMILY consortium will accelerate preventive and treatment intervention in vulnerable families and help to prevent the transition from health to disease despite high familial risk.