The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS), set up almost four years ago to support applied health research in the region, has just funded eight new projects to support children and young people's mental health services across the region.

The funding forms part of the NIHR's ARC Mental Health Capacity infrastructure, where ARC KSS was awarded £750,000, across three years, to build research capacity in mental health and help researchers in clinical practice to develop and strengthen their skills and support young children and young people's mental health and wellbeing.

Youth Research Partnerships
Five, new research projects that provide support for young people - up to the age of 25 - to engage in, get involved with, co-produce and co-design health and care research in relation to children and young people's mental health have been selected.

The New Youth Research Partnership Awards, which started this month (July), are expected to run for just over a year. They include a range of research projects from a host of different organisations working together to improve the way children and young people's mental health services are delivered and run, across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

The projects awarded include:

Project 1: The Kent Participation Network for Youth Research, hosted by Kent County Council, that looks to build a network where children, young people and their families can use their lived experience to influence future policy and service developments.

Hannah Patton, Participation Coordinator, Children, Young People and Education, Kent County Council, said: “We are so pleased to have been successful with our application to build a Youth Research Network in Kent and work is already underway. The young researchers who were involved in coproducing our idea and application are so excited to get started and start recruiting and training our next cohort of young researchers.”

Project 2: "In our Own Words" youth research programme, hosted by Surrey County Council, that aims to give control to young people to decide on the focus on the research, in particular, young people and mental health.

Sam Reynolds, Head of Customer Engagement & System Development, Surrey County Council at Surrey County Council, said: "This is an exciting next step in our journey to see young people fully involved in all aspects of service design. Young people will identify their own priorities, design and lead their own research projects, and present their findings in their own words to decision-making groups across the county."

Project 3: A Pan-Sussex Youth Research partnership: young people's experience of the impact of mental health and wellbeing, hosted by YMCA DownsLink Group, to deliver a Youth Research Partnership in Sussex, focused on children and young (CYP) people's mental health, that will allow CYP to be treated as experts of their own experiences and have the space to affect change in the mental health sector.

Shaun Polley, Head of Therapeutic Services for YMCA DownsLink Group, said:
“As one of the largest voluntary sector mental health providers in Sussex, we are committed to working in partnership with children and young people in the design of services, and this is a fantastic opportunity to meaningfully engage young people in an issue that they tell us is really important to them.”

Project 4: Peer Empowerment Network, hosted by Make (Good) Trouble, will expand upon existing work to facilitate youth-led mental health research and train up to 20 youth ambassadors (16-24 years) in best practice peer-to-peer interview techniques.

Project 5: Friendship Bench ImpLementation (with and for) Africans Locally, hosted by the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, will pilot a Friendship bench locally to see what would be needed and train the community health workers that would support it. The project aims to involve Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities across Kent Surrey and Sussex in developing service provision relevant to them, and in research and capacity-building around mental health.

Individual Development Awards (IDAs)
Three individuals, employed by a health and care provider organisations in the region, have also received an IDA Springboard Award, to help build their research skills in children and young people's mental health. They include:

1-     Chloé Smith, Art Psychotherapist, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, to design and deliver a patient engagement group by encouraging and facilitating meaningful interactions - using film to begin the process of creative expression.

2-     Marianne Burrowes, Lead Psychologist Wellbeing Practitioner, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, to collect data that will allow their primary care mental health service, treating depression and anxiety disorders, to identify any gaps and enhance mental health assessments, helping parents to be better understood and improve information gathering.

3-     Gemma Le Roy, Student and Health and Wellbeing Mindset Coach, University of Chichester and The Wellness Tribe, to support and conduct applied research on: children and young people's mental health, the benefits of barefoot group exercise combined with mindfulness in nature, a health intervention.

Applications are still open for the second round of Springboard Awards (closing date: 5pm on Thursday 31 August 2023). Further details, including how to apply can be found here.

Recite Me Accessibility Tools