New project aims to improve adolescent mental health in disadvantaged communities
A multi-disciplinary team of leading scientists and mental health practitioners has been awarded £5.3 million to work alongside disadvantaged communities and help improve adolescent mental health.
A project to trial a new approach to improve adolescent mental health in two disadvantaged communities has been awarded £5.3m funding.
The award was made by the UK Prevention Research Partnership and will fund a five-year project called Kalio – meaning connected or whole.
The team says it will take a “radical approach”, where mental health researchers will work with specialists who design public services for children and young people, and community activists, to develop locally tailored strategies to combat the underlying causes of mental ill health.
During the initial phase of the project, Kailo will be trialled in two distinct communities experiencing differing forms of disadvantage: North Devon, an area which is rural and sparsely populated, and Newham in East London, an area of dense urban population. The research aims to test the feasibility of Kailo across these contexts, so that the model can be refined and implemented more widely in subsequent years.
Professor Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre, and leading on the project said the pandemic has placed an “unprecedented strain” on young people’s mental health.
“Even before the pandemic evidence suggests that poor mental health is on the rise in this group,” Fonagy says. “We know all too well that impact and disadvantage are not equally felt in society – young people from minoritised and economically disadvantaged groups suffer the most. Here is an opportunity to design something innovative to address this pernicious problem.”
The project will bring together from University College London (UCL), the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and Exeter University and the South West Peninsula Applied Research Collaborative (PenARC), to work alongside social researchers and designers from Dartington Service Design Lab and Shift. Researchers will work alongside mental health practitioners from the voluntary sector, from charities Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and Redthread.
Professor Tim Hobbs, Chief Executive from Dartington Service Design Lab, says that the current system for addressing mental ill health has developed to be reactive, under the strain of limited resources and that the new approach has been developed around earlier intervention and prevention.
“This means that a response is often triggered only when a problem becomes severe. This new, connected approach will support practitioners and community leaders to work with young people and families to co-design evidence-informed and locally tailored strategies designed to address the underlying causes of mental ill health in their area.”
The UK Prevention Research Partnership funding is part of a wider £50m multi-funder initiative to improve population health and reduce health inequalities. To find out more, visit: https://mrc.ukri.org/research/initiatives/prevention-research/ukprp/
£38,210 - £42,607 (+£4k new joiner package)
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