Research Priorities for Children and Young People's Mental Health: Interventions and Services

For which topic were research priorities identified?

mental health in children and young people

In which location was the research priority setting conducted?

Europe - United Kingdom

Why was it conducted at all?

At the McPin Foundation, we believe that high quality research and evaluation is part of the answer. We need change that is based on evidence that demonstrates what works. That evidence can be generated using different methodological approaches, working with researchers across varied disciplines and produced using creative as well as traditional media. We know resources for mental health research are scarce so we need to make sure that what we do have is used effectively. We believe that investments are best used when they can answer the questions that matter most to the people that the research has the potential to affect - in this case, children and young people. One way of ensuring this happens is to get children and young people involved in the research prioritization process, something that has been identified as a priority for the sector over the coming decade.

What was the objective?

to find out what questions children and young people, and those who support them, want researchers to answer about mental health

What was the outcome?

a ranking list of 10 research questions

How long did the research prioritization take?

December 2016: establishing the advisory board and steering group. July 2017 – October 2017: survey to gather research questions. November 2017 – June 2018: data processing. June 2018: interim ranking survey. November 2018: 1-day workshop

Which methods were used to identify research priorities?

JLA method

How were the priorities for research identified exactly?

Step 1: Setting up the priority setting partnership: A Young People’s Advisory Group and a steering group were convened. Step 2: Gathering research questions: A survey was designed to gather the public’s questions about young people’s mental health. 2,566 people submitted over 5,500 questions. To be inclusive, people could respond online or return a paper copy of the survey. The project team worked closely with the Young People’s Advisory Group to ensure that they got responses from young people. The project team also monitored who was responding and saw that they needed to work harder to attract males and those working in the education sector. Step 3: Data processing: Out-of-scope questions were removed. Similar questions were grouped together and overarching questions that captured their meaning were formulated. The resulting questions were checked against evidence: existing research was checked to see how many questions had already been answered. This resulted in 91 questions. Step 4: Interim ranking survey: A survey asked the public to pick which of the 91 questions they felt should be prioritized. To decrease the response burden, each participants saw a random selection of 40 questions and was asked to choose 10. This resulted in the top 25 questions. Step 5: Workshop: Participants were split into three groups. To ensure a balance of perspectives, each group contained at least two young people and one parent, as well as a mix of psychologists, psychiatrists, inpatient support staff, teachers, teaching support staff, social workers, and representatives from the charity sector. The three groups ranked the 25 questions. The ranks from all the groups were combined to come up with a final list. Everyone then had a chance to discuss the order and make any final changes. By the end of the day, participants agreed on the 10 most important questions.

Which stakeholders took part?

Initial survey: 2566 participants: 40% young people (under 26), 40% parents, 12% teachers or school-based support staff, 4% psychologists or psychiatrists, 9% mental health nurses, therapists, or other support roles. Interim ranking survey: 753 participants. Workshop: members of the young people’s advisory group and steering group, as well as young people, parents, and professionals (mix of psychologists, psychiatrists, inpatient support staff, teachers, teaching support staff, social workers, representatives from the charity sector).

How were stakeholders recruited?

Many months (December 2016 – July 2017) were spent on building relationships with organizations and individuals that work with marginalized or disadvantaged communities. This helped to disseminate both surveys widely.

Were stakeholders actively involved or did they just participate?

Stakeholders not only participated but were also actively involved in the research prioritization process: They were part of an advisory board and a steering group. The steering group – consisting of funders, supporters, young people, parents, representatives from teaching, social work, mental health services and the charitable sector – guided the project. A Young People's advisory group – consisting of 7 people aged 14 to 23 who were passionate about mental health research – was involved at all stages.