Youth-led mental health agenda in Oldham, Manchester

Young people in Oldham, Greater Manchester, identify top areas of focus for mental health care in the pilot,  MH:2K project.

Delivered by UK think tank Involve and social enterprise Leaders Unlocked, the initiative supports 14 – 25 year-olds to lead conversations on mental health issues that affect them. The MH:2K engagement model provides a direct line of insight from local youth, drawing the 14-25 demographic into dialogue with each other and key local decision-makers to point out mental health barriers and explore possible solutions. 

The report, MH:2K Oldham: A youth-led approach to exploring mental health, outlines a six-part engagement methodology, which can be applied in any locality in the UK. It involves:    

  • Recruitment: Local project partners bring together a core team of Citizen Researchers, a cross-section of local youth, including those at risk or with direct experience of mental health issues.
  • Design Days: Citizen Researchers work with local and national information on youth mental health to help distinguish significant issues for their area. Researchers learn about research, public speaking, event design, and facilitation.  
  • Roadshow: The core team co-create workshops to engage around 500 local youth identifying priorities for their specific area.
  • Results Day: Working with local researchers and decision-makers, the core team review roadshow findings to draw out themes and make recommendations for change.  
  • Big Showcase: The team reveals findings and analyses in conversation with key stakeholders.
  • Advisory Panel: A group of local experts provide ongoing support, feedback, and facilitation throughout the project, to initiate recommendations and effect change.

The Oldham pilot drew 600 local young people, and 85 experts and leaders from 27 organisations. Participants highlighted five principal areas for mental health care:

  • families and relationships;
  • the environment and culture of schools;
  • stigma;
  • professional practice; and,
  • self-harm.

Local stakeholder groups and decision-makers, including members of the expert panel, will partner on an action plan for the recommendations. Further MH:2K engagements have been marked for Birmingham, Central Lancashire, North Tyneside, and Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.  

Sally Hussey is a Melbourne-based writer and Bang the Table’s Senior Managing & Commissioning Editor of Content and Research. She has an extensive background in the publishing, academic and cultural sectors.

Photo:Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography/Flickr/cc

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