SOMIND: Somatic, Mental, and Neurodevelopmental Conditions – Agnieszka Butwicka's research group

My research group investigates the connections between mental, neurodevelopmental, and somatic conditions in young people. Taking a holistic lifetime perspective, we explore the causes and consequences of these comorbidities, starting with early life factors throughout influences during childhood until adulthood. By unraveling the interplay between comorbid conditions, we aim to gain insights into their complex relationships and unveil strategies that can enhance overall health and well-being.

Sketch of the Wargentin building, KI Campus Solna

My research group is dedicated to studying the complex interactions between mental health, neurodevelopmental disorders, and somatic diseases, with a particular emphasis on the young population. 

Youth mental health disorders are becoming more and more common, which presents a serious public health concern. Many young people struggle with somatic conditions such as obesity and metabolic and gastrointestinal diseases and frequently face both mental and physical health challenges. However, our understanding of the etiology, risk factors, and treatment strategies is largely based on a single-disease paradigm. Currently, there is a significant gap in the healthcare system regarding comprehensive and coordinated care for patients with co-occurring mental health and somatic conditions. Furthermore, the complex relationship between mental health medications and physical health complicates the treatment landscape. 

Our vision is to improve clinical outcomes and overall quality of life for people navigating the complex intersection of mental health and somatic conditions. Our research aims to pave the way for more integrated and effective prevention and treatment interventions tailored to this population's specific needs.

To achieve our vision, we aim to expand the knowledge about the underlying causes, risk factors, rising prevalence, and long-term consequences of comorbid mental and somatic health conditions in young people. To accomplish this, we have assembled an interdisciplinary team with expertise in mental health, pediatrics, diabetes, and advanced data analysis. We collaborate at both the national and international levels. Our research approach is built around using big data sources, clinical data, and cutting-edge statistical methods. We use genetically informative samples, such as twins and families, to better understand the genetic and environmental influences on somatic and mental health conditions. Our research takes a holistic whole-life perspective and a bioecological approach to scrutinize the impact of factors during pregnancy and childhood on disease risk and its enduring consequences.


Early-life environmental risk factors of Intellectual Disability: biological, psychosocial influences and early identification– Nationwide Twin and Family Study. Swedish Research Council for Health Working Life and Welfare

SISU - "Post-Pandemic Vulnerability and Resilience: A bioecological approach towards youth well-being in Nordic schools and communities", Nordforsk (link to website)


All publications from group members

Staff and contact

All members of the group

Other people connected to the group

  • Boman, Marcus
  • Liu, Shengxin
  • Michalak, Arkadiusz
  • Burzyński, Jacek

Visiting address

Karolinska Institutet, Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Nobels väg 12A, Stockholm, 171 77, Sweden

Postal address

Karolinska Institutet, Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, PO Box 281, Stockholm, 171 77, Sweden


A smiling child with his fist raised surrounded by other children in the background - picture generated by AI (Wepik
Photo: AI (Wepik)

Its focus is on assessing outcomes following the pandemic to guide future interventions for the improved well-being of young individuals.

Logo for the SISU Consortium

What is SISU?

"Sisu" is a Finnish term that represents perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity. It embodies the Nordic capacity for post-pandemic renewal. The SISU consortium aims to improve the well-being of young people by conducting high-quality research with diverse longitudinal and cross-sectional data from four Nordic countries. SISU's core belief is that the combination of multiple data sources, interdisciplinary knowledge, and cutting-edge statistical methods will yield innovative evidence. This evidence will inform future interventions to foster resilience in the face of adversity in communities, schools, families, and young people throughout the Nordic countries and beyond.

AI generated image of a purple flower growing in the snow
Photo: AI (Wepik)

Our Impact

The prevalence of mental health problems in children and adolescents has been steadily increasing over the past few decades, posing a significant public health challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions have exacerbated this situation, giving rise to concerns about potential long-term consequences for young people. There is an immediate need for well-conducted post-pandemic studies to comprehensively grasp its lasting effects on the well-being of the younger generation. This research presents a valuable opportunity to gain new insights into youth mental health and establish a solid foundation for addressing future crises. This understanding is essential for building a sustainable society and safeguarding the well-being of future generations in Nordic countries and beyond.

Illustration of the bioecological network, SISU
The bioecological network, SISU

We hypothesize that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth differ based on the specific environmental circumstances and genetic factors. Child welfare is influenced by a complex interplay of environmental and genetic factors throughout stages of development. To understand this interaction across diverse settings, we rely on the bio-ecological framework. The pandemic’s impact extends across all levels of systems, from national policies and cultural values to schools, local communities, and a child’s immediate home environment and genetic predisposition. Therefore, a multidisciplinary research approach becomes essential. By identifying factors affecting post-pandemic outcomes at various framework levels, we hope to offer insights that inform policies, preventive measures, and health promotion strategies.

The Nordic Consortium

The SISU consortium brings together collaborators from renowned Nordic institutions. These are:
Sweden: Karolinska Institutet, Department of Medical Epidemiology and BiostatisticsProject Owner
Norway: University of Oslo, Department of Psychology, Partner
Iceland: Reykjavik University, Partner
Finland: Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Partner

The SISU Team comprising researchers from the Nordic countries
The SISU Team

Meet the SISU Team

Our interdisciplinary team comprises researchers with expertise in child and adolescent well-being, developmental psychology, child and adolescent psychiatry, educational outcomes, and pandemic consequences. 

Core team members

Profile image

Agnieszka Butwicka

Principal Investigator for SISU consortium, SISU Team co-leader, Sweden

Karolinska Institutet, Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Division of Mental Health Services, R&D Department, Akershus University Hospital, Lørenskog, Norway

Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Profile image

Zheng Chang

SISU Team co-leader, Sweden

Eivind Ystrøm

SISU Team leader, Norway

University of Oslo, Department of Psychology, Norway

Thorhildur Halldorsdottir

SISU Team leader, Iceland

Reykjavik University, Iceland

Jaana Suvisaari

SISU Team leader, Finland

Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland

Financed by

Logotype for NordForsk