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Learning from Covid-19: Using GP records to improve how services support young people with mental health problems

What is this project?

This project aims to explore how the mental health of children and young people has been affected during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). 

The researchers will use data from General Practitioners (GPs) to work out how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected children and young people. The sort of data they will look at includes looking at how many young people have been diagnosed with a mental health condition before and after the pandemic, and looking at how many prescriptions have been offered to treat mental health problems.

The researchers expect that the number of children and young people seeking help for mental health problems from their GPs has risen over the last year to above pre-pandemic levels. This would be shown in the GP medical records as, for example, increases in diagnoses of depression, anxiety, eating disorder, self-harm, prescription of antidepressants and referrals to mental health services.

By looking at this data, the team will be able to make recommendations for GPs, healthcare and social services and schools and colleges, on how to better identify and help children and young people with their mental health problems.

Why is this research important?

GPs are often the first point of contact for people experiencing mental health problems, and the team want to do this study in order to improve:

  • How we identify young people’s mental health problems at an early stage
  • Our understanding of the challenges brought on by the pandemic influencing children and young people’s mental health.
  • Post-pandemic mental health recovery plans for healthcare, social care and educational services.
  • How we use the resources available to better target young people’s mental health problems.
  • Better guidance for a range of healthcare and education professionals to enable them to feel confident to offer support to young people with mental health concerns.
  • To ensure children and young people receive the support and treatment they need to prevent development of (further) mental health problems later in life.

How are McPin and people affected by mental health problems involved? 

McPin will be responsible for ensuring that the voices of young people with relevant lived experience shape the project throughout. To do this, we will form both a Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG) and an adult/carer advisory group, who will meet during the project and advise on key aspects, including:

  • Providing a voice for lived experience throughout the project
  • Guiding the analysis of the GP records
  • Making sense of the findings and working out what this means for young people’s mental health
  • Making recommendations for GP practices and other health and social care services
  • Co-producing creative outputs and resources for these services and for young people/parents & carers (e.g TikTok, videos, social media resources)

What is the current status of the project?

We have recruited 8 young people (13-25 years old) with lived experience of mental health problems to join our project Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG) and 5 parent/carers to join our parent and carer advisory group. Both groups will advise, guide and feedback on the project throughout its duration.

Where can I find more information?

For more information about the public involvement within this project, you can get in contact via email: emmagaravini@mcpin.org