Right People, Right Questions: Research priorities for young people’s mental health

What is this research?

We conducted a James Lind Alliance (JLA) priority-setting partnership (PSP) to help support our understanding of children and young people’s mental health. It brings together children and young people (including those with lived experience of mental health problems), families, professionals and academics to identify the top 10 priorities for research in children and young people’s mental health.

You can view the full results here.

Why is this research important?

There is pressure on mental health services to improve treatments and support for young people. Current interventions do not appear to be meeting the demand or tackling the causes. Our project brings new insight by listening to those directly affected – young people themselves. Throughout the project, we have striven to amplify the voices of young people and their families. Alongside others, they have identified where they feel the important gaps in research are. The aim is to influence which research gets funded going forward, and ultimately improve the mental health of children and young people. We hope that funders will use these priorities to allocate funding to future research projects.

How were McPin Involved?

The McPin Foundation led a consortium of groups interested in children and young people’s mental health. These were MQ, the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, the Matthew Elvidge Trust, and Mental Health Research UK.

We formed a steering group of young people, parents, education and mental health professionals and academics to guide the process. We also formed a project-specific young people’s advisory group of 11-25 year olds. Both groups were involved with decision-making at each step of the project.

  • In 2017, we launched two national public surveys. The first asked people to submit the questions they would like answered about children and young people’s mental health. This survey was open for 4 months, from July to November, and we received over 2,600 responses asking over 5,000 questions.
  • We then organised the responses and checked whether any existing research already answered the questions.
  • This led to our second survey in 2018, where we asked the public to select their top ten questions from the list of unanswered questions. We looked at all of the responses, paying attention to which groups rated which questions as the most important, (for example, what did young people typically vote as their top questions, compared to teachers, parents, etc.). The survey was open for 3 weeks and we received over 750 responses.
  • This process was followed by the final prioritisation workshop. Young people, parents, teachers, mental health professionals and researchers came together to prioritise the top 10 unanswered research questions for children and young people’s mental health.
  • We announced the list at Houses of Parliament in November, 2018. You can find it here.
  • Now that the top ten questions are publicly available, we hope that funders and researchers will use them in future research. The McPin Foundation is eager to work with these groups, along with the Young People’s Advisory Group.
  • The closing step is to develop a list of the questions that the public submitted that were already answered by research. This will be done alongside the Young People’s Advisory Group.

Who do I contact for more information?

You can contact Thomas Kabir or Rachel Temple or by email: |

Interested in other young people’s work at the McPin Foundation? Click here.

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