Young People's Network

Our Young People’s Network is a mailing list of young people who want to get involved in mental health research. Here you can make connections, learn new skills, have your say and lots more.

What is the Young People’s Network?

Could you help shape the mental health of children and young people?  

At McPin we think mental health research should always involve the people it directly affects – which means research must include young people. 

Our Young People’s Network is made up of young people aged 13-28 interested in being involved in mental health research.  

If you think that sounds like you, sign up to the network and, when an involvement opportunity comes up, we’ll send you the information directly to your inbox, so you’re the first to hear about it.  

By joining, you’ll get to hear about the latest opportunities to get directly involved and have a say in mental health research, either with McPin or our partners. 

You don’t need to have any previous experience of research, and there are lots of benefits of getting involved. 

A photo of 12 young people and members of the McPin Young People's team stood in a group smiling at the camera

What does young people's involvement mean?

In our work, when we say involvement we mean that the people with lived experience of a research topic directly shape the research. 

People with lived experience are involved with designing and/or carrying out that research, alongside (or as part of) the research team. Involvement has a different meaning to participation in research. Participation can mean that individuals simply take part in the research, by answering questions and supplying data, for example. 

In the young people’s involvement work we do, the role of the person with lived experience is to advise on the project to make sure that it is appropriate, effective and will be relevant for the people the research is trying to help. 

What is a Young Person’s Advisory Group (YPAG)?

Young People’s Advisory Groups are groups that offer longer-term involvement in projects and meeting regularly to discuss the research. These groups are usually made up of around 10-15 young people with different backgrounds and lived experiences. 

The makeup of a YPAG can differ. Sometimes for a specific project a particular experience is required. For example, experience of a specific mental health issue like anxiety or an eating disorder. 

When the YPAG isn’t working on a specific project, or if research is more general, there is a wider variation in lived experience. For example, there is a McPin YPAG which meets every month to discuss McPin projects more generally all with different backgrounds and lived experience.  

Find out more about the network

Research involvement can take many different forms, so you can get involved in a way that suits you.  

There are several ways young people can get involved, like signing up to the mailing list, becoming a member of a Young People’s Advisory Group or working as a co-researcher.  

Becoming a member of our Young People’s Network means joining the mailing list in order to receive email alerts when there’s a new involvement opportunity.  

This is the main way our young people stay up to date. Researchers or projects will then contact us if they want to involve young people in their research.  

Signing up to the mailing list doesn’t mean you’re committing to anything – it just means we will send you an email if an opportunity comes up. You can unsubscribe at any time and you don’t need any previous experience of research.

Involvement opportunities can vary quite a lot. Sometimes it’s as simple as speaking to a researcher for an hour about their planned research and providing a young person’s perspective on it – is it easy to understand, is the right language being used, is it engaging for a young person etc.  

For example, you could have the opportunity to: 

  • Sit on a project steering group. This means attending regular meetings with other people who are running the research to discuss how it’s going and anything that might need to be changed. 
  • Speak to a researcher about their proposed project. This might be early on in a project so that you can help define the research question. 
  • Become a member of a YPAG (see below). This is a group that meets several times throughout a research project to actively help shape and provide feedback on the project from a young person’s perspective. 
  • Answer a survey

Sometimes there are opportunities for young people to take on the role of co-researcher. This means they would help carry out the research for a specific project, which might mean doing some data collection and analysis.  

A poster from one of the McPin young people's advisory group members explaining all the ways they've been involved in the YPAG, such as different types of involvement, ongoing projects, and how they engaged the public and other young people.
My involvement in the McPin YPAG

By signing up to the network, you’ll have the chance to: 

  • Learn more about mental health and research 
  • Increase your confidence and try new things 
  • Gain useful skills that could be used to boost your CV for college, jobs and university 
  • Meet and work with new people, including those with similar experiences to yourself 
  • Work with and learn from researchers, academics and other mental health professionals 
  • Be reimbursed for your time! The opportunities that we will tell you about tend to offer payment (please check individual involvement opportunities for details). 
  • Really make a difference to how we understand young people’s mental health. This is especially important at a time when young people’s mental health services are in desperate need of change! 

Find out more about joining a young person’s meeting in our information sheet.

Young people’s ground rules and meeting tips

I joined the Young People’s Network because it feels like I’m making a difference and it feels productive and mature. It’s just fun.

Are you interested in involving young people in your research?

We regularly collaborate with people on their projects about young people’s mental health.  

Our Young People’s Network is made up of over 350 young people across the UK, including those with lived experience of mental health issues.

If you’re interested in involving young people in your work, find more information on our Public Involvement page.

How do we support young people?

We have provisions in place and safeguarding training to ensure that we prioritise the wellbeing of the young people we work with.

Young people who get involved with us usually tell us they had had a positive, beneficial experience and enjoyed the opportunity to directly shape mental health research. However, the work that we do often involves the discussion of sensitive and challenging topics.  

Because everyone has different preferences, we think it is important to actively involve the young person to put their safety plan in place.  

When they first join us, we ask if they have other mental health support currently. This could be as informal as talking to a friend, a relative, or accessing therapy. This information helps us know what options are available if they have a difficult experience during one of our meetings. 

We also work with them to find out what support we can provide. If someone has a particular request (for example, perhaps they find a particular mental health topic difficult), we will offer to discuss the different options available to them (for example, as listed under the ‘during meetings’ section below). We will offer an individual telephone or Zoom call to do this. 

In addition to our ground rules, these are some of the steps we take to help keep young people safe when working with us: 

  • Cameras are required to be switched on and remain on when joining a meeting online
  • We give attendees advance notice of what will be discussed in meetings, including relevant trigger warnings 
  • We ensure the primary focus of discussion is the research study itself, rather than people’s personal experiences  
  • We offer a 1:1 debrief after meetings 
  • We always have two members of staff attend each meeting so one team member is always available to support people individually in case of any issues 
  • We ask for feedback after each meeting 
Young people’s ground rules and meeting tips

For the work we do with young people outside of meetings – such as opportunities sent to the network by email or through digital platforms like Slack and Basecamp – we take the following steps to ensure their safety: 

  • We discourage private messaging between young people and request that any unwanted messages are reported to us 
  • We use trigger warnings in the subject line of emails and young people can opt out at any time if they prefer not to engage with a particular topic 

If we’re worried about someone during our work with them, we will always: 

  • Put that person’s welfare and wishes first. We request an emergency contact from a trusted adult for each young person that we would contact if there was ever a significant concern. 
  • Try to adapt meetings to make sure they could still be involved. Depending in the situation we might suggest they step away from the study for a time. 

We provide information to give a clearer picture of how we run our young people’s meetings. 

What to expect at a Young People’s Network Zoom meeting

Mental Health Support

If you would like support for your mental health, please access our Support Page

Our Young People's team

Rachel Temple

Rachel Temple

Public Involvement in Research Manager (Youth Involvement Lead)

Annabel Walsh

Annabel Walsh

Public Involvement in Research Manager

Davino Beckford

Davino Beckford

Peer Research and Public Involvement in Research Officer

Emma Garavini

Emma Garavini

Youth Public Involvement in Research Officer

Roya Kamvar

Roya Kamvar

Senior Public Involvement in Research Officer

Hot resources

Infographic
Infographic

CHOOSE: What can young people do?

An infographic looking at how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted youth mental health and what young people can do.
Young people | 17th November 2023
Toolkit
Toolkit

10 for 10: Working as a co-researcher

Looking at how co-researchers shape young people’s mental health research. We explore what we mean by co-research and look at examples of it in action at McPin.
10 for 10 • Research methods | 4th August 2023
Video
Video

What to do if you think you might have a mental health problem

A video from the CHOOSE project looking at youth mental health and COVID-19.
COVID-19 • Young people | 7th February 2024

Follow the Young People's Network on social media!