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Boost for young people's mental health research

Funding to help encourage young people, their families, and communities to participate in mental health research has been given a welcome boost following a successful joint bid from across the region.

The North East and North Cumbria (NENC) integrated care system is set to receive almost £100,000 to help increase diversity and inclusion in children and young people's mental health research participation across the region. Funding is part of a £1.6 million investment, through the NHS England ICS Research Engagement Network Development programme which has been awarded across 17 integrated care systems throughout the country.

The demand for children and young people's mental health services has seen a significant rise across the country, especially since the start of the pandemic, including here in the North East and North Cumbria. The need to develop a deeper understanding of children and young people's experiences and how they can be better supported was also identified as a system-wide priority at a recent integrated care system learning and improvement event.

The bid was developed in partnership with the Clinical Research Network NENC, NIHR Applied Research Collaboration NENC, North East Commissioning Support, NENC Voluntary Community Social Enterprise (VCSE) Partnership Programme, Deep End Network, and Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne, and Wear NHS FT.  

Aejaz Zahid, executive director of innovation for the NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: " There is a clear commitment from across the region to help tackle young people's mental health. Using research to identify the underlying causes of increasing mental health issues, the access that people have to services in the health and care system, and an evaluation of the interventions both healthcare or non-healthcare, are foundational to help reverse this trend."

“We need to make sure we hear from a wide cross section of young people to ensure we have a combined voice to help develop our plans. This funding will allow us to work together to focus on increasing participation in research from the diverse communities in our region."

The programme will support up to two VCSE organisations in each of the four integrated care partnership areas, to co-design, alongside VONNE (the regional support body for the North East VCSE sector) and Cumbria CVS a programme of engagement, with their respective communities and develop an evaluation plan to monitor the outcomes of each approach.

Lisa Taylor, Health & Wellbeing Programme Director for Voluntary Organisations' Network North East (VONNE) said: "Working with partners including the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in shaping the bid sets the groundwork for increasing diversity and inclusion in children and young people's mental health research participation across the region. We want to build on our strong community relationships to help develop better ways of engaging children and young people in research, making sure that the people who are affected and use services are involved in the process by contributing to evidence and research."

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