YHARC wins funding from the Department of Health and Social Care to establish a Yorkshire Adolescent Mental Health Collaboratory

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As part of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) Mental Health Initiative, the Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Collaboration (YH ARC) will receive almost £750,000 to support and prevent mental ill health in our region’s young population.

The programme, which brings together expertise from two of our four ARC themes (Mental Health and Healthy Childhood), aims to maximise the opportunities for Born in Bradford (BiB) adolescents to take part in research intended to support and improve their mental health. In turn, this will improve the lives of others and future generations by enabling evidence-informed mental health practice and policy. Over the coming years, 30,000 young people from 38 schools in Bradford will take part in BiB as part of the Age of Wonder programme .

With investment from YH ARC, we will establish the Yorkshire Adolescent Mental Health Collaboratory. The Collaboratory will provide a whole-system environment where young people and their families, researchers, policy makers and practitioners will work together to develop and test solutions that aim to prevent and support mental ill health in young people..

Two thirds of BiB adolescents are from the most deprived area in the UK and over half are from ethnic minority groups. These are seldom–heard communities in a city that has the lowest healthy life expectancy in the country. Evidence from BiB has highlighted vulnerabilities in early life, marked inequalities in access to mental health services, and revealed the harsh and unequal impact of the pandemic on families’ mental health. For example, over 50% of primary school children experience bullying, large increases in anxiety and depression over the pandemic are experienced by the poorest families, and there are major inequalities in uptake of mental health services by socio-economic and ethnic groups. The Yorkshire Adolescent Mental Health Collaboratory will build research where it is needed and provide generalizable evidence for other multi-ethnic urban centres across the UK.

Objectives for this programme are to:

  1. Develop a learning health system that harnesses the power of whole-system routine linked data (health, education, social care) to help target support where the need is greatest, and facilitate intelligence-based policy and practice.
  2. Build a platform for efficient experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations. We will take a phased and developmental approach to harnessing the platform of the 30,000 young people in BiB across 38 schools.
  3. Establish a lived experience panel of young people to prioritise research goals, develop appropriate consent methods and co-design interventions for the Yorkshire Adolescent Mental Health Collaboratory.
  4. Create a panel of stakeholders from across Yorkshire and Humber and national ARCs to develop a pipeline of promising interventions and natural experiments that could be developed and evaluated in the Collaboratory.
  5. Translate cutting edge learning from epidemiology and discovery science in the cohort and apply it to shape the development of interventions and the translation into health, education and social policy to improve the mental health of young people.
  6. Establish a region-wide pathway to impact and implementation for research undertaken in our Yorkshire Adolescent Mental Health Collaboratory.

Prof Simon Gilbody, Theme Co-Lead for the Mental Health theme at Yorkshire and Humber ARC shared the following quote: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to harness the power of collaboration and connectivity. Without mental health there is no health, and we want Yorkshire to be at the centre of research and innovation. The Yorkshire Adolescent Mental Health Collaboratory will be based in Bradford, but will draw on the best scientists working in our region to ensure our young people get the best start in life”.

This programme will, for the first time, unite universities based across the region in a common goal of building mental health research capacity. These include York, Sheffield, Leeds and Bradford. We will also link with other ARCs and BRCs across the UK to promote strong partnerships working across geography and expertise.

To learn more or get involved in the programme, please contact: Josie.Dickerson@bthft.nhs.uk

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