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What does young people’s involvement mean?

What does young people’s involvement in mental health research look like?

Research involvement can take many different forms. 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? There are a number of 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.

On this page, we’ll talk a little bit about some of the different ways that members of our Young People’s Network get involved.

But first…

What is involvement?

“Involvement” is when people with lived experience of a research topic directly shape the research.

In other words, they are involved in designing and/or carrying out that research, alongside (or as part of) the research team. Involvement is different to participation in research. Involvement means that the research is being done with or by those with lived experience.

In this kind of research the main role of people 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.

Different ways to get involved

Become a member of our Young People’s Network

Becoming a member of our Young People’s Network means joining the mailing list. This is the main way that our young people who want to be involved in mental health research stay up to date with opportunities. Researchers or projects will contact us if they want to involve young people in their research. We then reach out to our Young People’s Network, sharing the opportunity and helping organise the young people’s involvement.

These opportunities can vary quite a lot. For example you could:

  • 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 to define the research question.
  • Become a member of a YPAG (see below) which is a group which meets a number of times throughout a research project to be actively involved in shaping and providing feedback on a project from a young person’s perspective.
  • Answer a survey.

We share all opportunities through our mailing lists but we also talk about things on our Instagram and Twitter – make sure you’re following us over there so you don’t miss anything!

Signing up to the mailing list doesn’t mean you are committing to anything – it just means that we will send you an email if an opportunity comes up. And of course, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Some of our recent opportunities.

Becoming a member of a Young People’s Advisory Group

Young People’s Advisory Groups (aka YPAGs) are groups which tend to have longer term involvement, and meet regularly top discuss ongoing projects or research. Usually these groups are made up of around 10 – 15 young people with different backgrounds and lived experiences.

Watch the below video, where some current members share their thoughts on their experiences as part of a YPAG:

YPAGs are formed for a variety of reasons and their make up can differ quite a lot, depending on why the YPAG was formed.

Sometimes, for a specific project a particular experience is required (e.g. for the VR for Psychosis project, a YPAG of young people with lived experience of psychosis was formed to help shape the research).

In other examples, when the YPAG isn’t working on one specific project, or when the research is more general, there is a wider variation in lived experience. For example, there is a McPin YPAG which meets every month and discusses a wider variety of projects which McPin is working on.

Young people as co-researchers

There are opportunities for young people to take on the role of co-researcher. This means they would actually be performing the research on a specific project, doing some of the data collection and analysis. Some great examples of this on recent work is the Blueprint project and the REACH project.

Write a blog for us!

We are always looking for people to write blogs or bulletins for us, using their unique experiences as part of our network or with mental health issues. Here are some examples of amazing blogs written by members of our Young People’s Network:

Mental Health Support

If you would like mental health support, please access our Sources of Support Page.