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Children and young people play a bigger part in mental health research

A group of voluntary community sector enterprise (VCSE) organisations across the North East and North Cumbria have been successfully selected to receive funding to help encourage young people, their families, and communities from diverse backgrounds to participate in mental health research.

Following a successful joint bid, the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (NENC ICS) received nearly £100,000 in funding from the NHS England Innovation Research and Life Sciences programme, to support new models of community engagement which have the potential to improve participation and diversity of representation health and care n research projects. With Children and Young Person's Mental Health being a significant priority for the North East and North Cumbria region, a decision was made to utilise these funds to focus on this area of need.

The funding bid was supported by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North East and North Cumbria (NENC), Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East (VONNE) and Cumbria CVS – and the three organisations will support the VCSE organisation in the delivery of the initiative and evaluate its impact.

Applications from a wide range of VCSE organisations from across the region supporting diverse communities were received, with seven VCSE organisations in the four integrated partnership areas in the North East and North Cumbria being awarded funding.

The successful organisations are;

  • New Beginnings North CIC (Sunderland)
  • YMCA (North Tyneside).
  • People First Independent Advocacy (Carlisle)
  • NE Youth (North East)
  • Young Women’s Outreach Project (Gateshead)
  • A Way Out (Stockton)
  • Healthworks (Newcastle)

NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), executive director of Innovation Aejaz Zahid said: "Improving the mental health of our young people is a key priority for partner organisations across the North East and North Cumbria. It is essential to develop a deeper understanding of the root causes of rising mental health issues and evidence to develop effective services for our young people that are informed by their diverse lived experiences and thinking."

"This funding has helped bring together these organisations which offer a range of approaches, strengths, and valuable connections with young people in their respective communities. Ensuring diverse participation from a wide range of young people is crucial to help us effectively develop action plans, whilst also sharing ideas and learning together to improve our collective approach of involving young people in research projects."

The project is being coordinated by the NENC VCSE Partnership (VONNE and Cumbria CVS), alongside the ICB, the regional NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC), the NIHR Clinical Research Network and CNTW, who will in partnership support the successful organisations through the stages of the programme.

Lisa Taylor, health and wellbeing programme director for VONNE said " It is both important and encouraging to see a range of VCSE organisations working towards involving children and young people in mental health research participation. It was fantastic to see so many great organisations bid for funding. Empowering young people to actively engage in research is a great way to promote their voices and experiences, but also ensures that our programmes are developed with the users in mind."

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