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Research group Environment and Mental Health

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Stress and relaxation can affect our everyday life. The degrees of effect can vary from person to person and depending on the situation. Our team investigates the contextual modulation of physiological and psychological responses triggered by various environmental situations (e.g., global migration trends and a global pandemic).

An increased mental health burden has been observed among first- and second-generation migrants and refugee. The relative risk for psychotic disorders is not increased in all migrant populations, but rather in those with a visible minority status. A possible mechanism is increased exposure to and reduced protection from stress and aversive life events. Specific stresses for people in ethnic minority groups include cultural differences in verbal communication, experienced discrimination, institutionalized racism, perceived alienation, and isolation. For such mental health problems, social support may not overrule effects of local poverty and socioeconomic disadvantage. It highlights the real need to examine how multiple factors, such as social differences, cultural diversity and ethical standards, can influence mental health status and care and how these important issues can be addressed in cross-cultural and intercultural research.

We adopt a longitudinal approach enabling us to identify factors that contribute to psychological changes, and other negative impacts, caused by various environmental situations. Environmental factors can be classified individual, social-environmental, and physical-environmental circumstances that affect exposure to stressors. Examples of these factors associated with mental illness include psychosocial stress, trauma, socio-economic conditions and other factors which might have distinct or shared effects on mental health across countries and in different national and/or ethnic groups, gender identities and urban/rural residences.

Together with our research partners in Sub-Saharan Africa, China, Europe and the United States, we work on projects that achieve mental health indicators within sustainable development goals.


  • ARISE-NUTRINT – Reducing nutrition-related noncommunicable diseases in adolescence and youth: interventions and policies to boost nutrition fluency and diet quality in Africa
  • SUMI — Towards causal real-life insights into mechanisms of risk and resilience for substance use: Incorporating experimental interventions in everyday life (Collaborator: Markus Reichert at Ruhr-Universität Bochum and at Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim) Link to the cognitive reappraisal technique. An installation link for the app.
  • UmWeltChange – Climate anxiety, climate worry, and mental health in a time of environmental and climate change
  • UNISAM — Entertainment-Education for tackling universal loneliness (Collaborator: Maya Adam at Stanford University School of Medicine and at Heidelberg Institute of Global Health)
  • EvalPCS — Evaluating the Public Climate School - a multi-component school-based program to promote climate awareness and action in students (Contact: Stephan Heinzel at TU Dortmund)
  • Exploring and designing urban density. Neurourbanism as a novel approach in global health (Contact: Mazda Adli at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin)


  • Global Mental Health in Berlin – Nairobi Global HEART program
  • Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA)
  • Substance Use Disorder (SUD)
  • Emotion
  • Social Neuroscience


MSc Dan Bromberg

Research Fellow, Research group Environment and Mental Health

Dr. rer. nat. Matthias Haucke

Research Fellow, Research group Environment and Mental Health

Prof. Dr. Shuyan Liu

Professorship in Global Mental Health; Head of the Centre for Population Neuroscience and Stratified Medicine (PONS) and research group Environment and Mental Health

Johanna Marie Münker

Student assistant, Research group Environment and Mental Health

Dr. med. Tamara Vukicevic

Research Fellow, Research group Environment and Mental Health

Luisa Wegner

Student assistant, Research group Environment and Mental Health

Selected publications

Results 1 to 10 of total 13

Results 1 to 10 of total 13