Brock Healthy Youth Project

BHYP (“Be Hype”) is a project being led by a transdisciplinary team of researchers from Brock University and other Canadian and international universities, as well as partner organizations and our youth engagement committee. The goal of BHYP is to examine the link between health-risk behaviours and adolescent brain development longitudinally.

Why is BHYP important?

Adolescence is a sensitive period for engagement in health-risk behaviours (e.g., substance use, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, risky sexual activity), which can have life-long repercussions. In fact:

  • Youth are more likely to report mental health problems and/or substance abuse disorders than any other age group
  • 70% of mental disorders start between early adolescence and young adulthood
  • Leading causes of death among adolescents are preventable (e.g., unintentional injuries, suicide, assault)
  • Health-risk behaviours that start or are reinforced during adolescence (physical inactivity, poor nutrition, substance abuse) are among the top 20 causes of health-related problems globally for all age groups

The question of why adolescents seem predisposed to engage in health-risk behaviours is age-old; however, recent work in the field of developmental neuroscience has provided new insights into this phenomenon by suggesting that brain maturation and the fact that neural connections among brain regions continues to develop throughout adolescence and into young adulthood might play a key role. The goal of BHYP is to provide an integrated assessment of the link between health-risk behaviours and adolescent brain development, as well as their interactions with other biopsychosocial factors (e.g., personality, environmental factors).

In order to ensure the timely mobilization of our research findings into prevention/intervention programs, policy, and education, we provide:

  1. an integrated investigation of the development of youth health-risk behaviours
  2. evidence-based support for the link between health-risk behaviours and adolescent brain development, and its implications for youth vulnerabilities and opportunities
  3. annual updates of precipitating factors that impact on health-risk behaviours and brain reactivity over time that are best to target in prevention/intervention programs
  4. a timely and widespread application of findings given our strong team of researchers, partners, and integrated knowledge mobilization strategies.