We are delighted to announce that our youth mental health project, MH:2K, is expanding to four more areas from this September. The areas are Birmingham, Central Lancashire, North Tyneside, and Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

We also want to say a big welcome to the project’s new National Advisory Panel. Made up of representatives from leading decision-making, research and charitable organisations working on mental health, the Panel will track the project carefully for nationally applicable learning and findings.

Find out more in our launch press release below.



Four more areas recruit Citizen Researchers in fight against youth mental ill-health

Birmingham, Central Lancashire, North Tyneside, and Nottingham and Nottinghamshire have become the latest areas to recruit Citizen Researchers as they try to reduce levels of youth mental ill-health. Their decision follows hot on the heels of a successful pilot of the approach in Oldham, where decision-makers are now implementing thirty mental health recommendations put forward by local young people.

The spread of the Citizen Researcher approach is part of MH:2K, an innovative new programme which sees 14-25 year olds identify the major mental health pressures facing local young people, engage their peers on these topics, and then work with local decision-makers and researchers to co-create recommendations for change.

Decision-makers aim to use the results to inform decisions about local mental health prevention, support, services and research priorities – with the ultimate aim of improving levels of youth mental wellbeing.

The project is designed and delivered by national charity Involve and social enterprise Leaders Unlocked, and is funded by a combination of the global, charitable foundation Wellcome, and the four participating local areas. It has already attracted national attention, and a fourteen strong national panel – including senior representatives from NHS England, Public Health England, local government and the National Institute of Health Research– is tracking the programme closely.

In Oldham, recommendations focussed on the mental health impacts of school and family life, self-harm, stigma and professional practice. They included health professionals visiting religious buildings to give talks, and targeting information at the primary school age group, including information for children to take home to their parents. They also suggested a free mediation service for extended families to enable young people to be heard at home, designated areas in schools for relaxation, and social media training for schools, with the internet now adding to problems with bullying.

Moves to implement the recommendations in Oldham are gathering speed, with the area’s young Citizen Researchers continuing their participation to help drive forward the changes.

The four new areas embarking on MH:2K hope to see similar impacts.

James Sandy, Partnerships Manager, Birmingham South Central Clinical Commissioning Group said, “We’re excited to collaborate with sector-leading organisations Involve and Leaders Unlocked on this innovative project. Birmingham is a very young city, so it’s vital that we hear young people’s ideas about how we can make it an even better and healthier place to live. Further developing our mental health offer is a key part of that mix.”

Local funding for the Central Lancashire project has been provided by South Ribble, Chorley and Preston Councils, as well as the Clinical Commissioning Groups from each area.

Peter Mullineaux, leader of South Ribble Borough Council, said: “We’re proud to help fund and drive forward such an innovative and important project.  By working closely with young people who have personal experience of mental health – either themselves or through family and friends – we can really start to make real, meaningful improvements to reduce levels of mental ill health in young people. “

Cllr Ian Grayson, cabinet member for Young People, North Tyneside Council said: “Mental health is a huge part of a young person’s wellbeing and it’s important that it is treated as such.

“Just as you can improve your physical health, you can protect your mental health so that you are able to think, feel and act in a way that allows you to enjoy life and deal with the challenges it presents.

“We are delighted to be supporting this work alongside Citizen Researchers and hope that we can help people in North Tyneside to better understand mental health and the best way to support any young people who may need it.”

Sally Seeley, Director of Quality and Personalisation, NHS Nottingham City Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are delighted to be a part of this project and see this as a real opportunity to work with young people in the city on improving mental health. We think it’s absolutely vital that conversations with young people are led by young people and we look forward to working together to reduce mental ill-health.”

For more information about the project and how to get involved, please contact sarah@involve.org.uk.



1.Interviews with representatives from the following organisations can be provided on request:

2. A summary report, listing the recommendations from MH:2K’s pilot in Oldham can be found here. The full pilot report is here.

3. The fifteen members of MH:2K’s National Advisory Panel are (in alphabetical order):

  • Professor Kathryn Abel, NIHR National Specialty Lead for Mental Health
  • Polly Ashmore and Sally Milne, Children and Young People’s Mental Health Team, NHS England
  • Cassandra Cameron, Policy Advisor, NHS Providers
  • Sophie Dix, Director of Research, MQ
  • Gregor Henderson, National Lead, Wellbeing and Mental Health, Public Health England
  • Paula Lavis, Strategic Lead, Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition
  • Dr Sara McCafferty, Strategy Group, NHS England
  • Dr Margaret Murphy, National Professional Adviser Care Quality Commission and Clinical Chair Secure and Specialised Mental Health Programme NHS England
  • Cllr Izzi Seccombe OBE, Chair of the Local Government Association Community Wellbeing Board and Leader of Warwickshire Council
  • Neera Sharma, Assistant Director Policy and Public Affairs, Barnardos
  • Bella Starling, Wellcome Engagement Fellow and Director of Public Programmes, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Ben Still, CEO, West Yorkshire Combined Authority
  • Two MH:2K Oldham Citizen Researchers

4. The MH:2K model was devised by national charity Involve and social enterprise Leaders Unlocked. Involve’s vision is of a democracy that works for everyone – one that gives people real power to affect change, and is capable of solving complex social, political and economic challenges. involve.org.uk Leaders Unlocked exists to allow young people to have a stronger voice on the issues that affect them. It drives greater accountability and fairness by helping organisations to adopt new ways of working with the young communities they serve.  www.leaders-unlocked.org

 5. About Wellcome: Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate.  wellcome.ac.uk