The aim of this programme is to support and fund research that examines how mental health problems emerge in young people, what makes some more susceptible or resilient than others, and how we can intervene early to promote positive mental health and wellbeing.
Adolescence is a time of rapid growth, learning and brain development, when our interactions with the world are changing hugely in the transition to adulthood.
The adolescence, mental health and developing mind programme will support research that examines how mental health problems emerge, what makes some people more susceptible or resilient than others and how we can intervene early to promote positive mental health and wellbeing.
Working with policymakers and people affected by these issues, including young people, parents and teachers, will be an important part of this programme, and a critical component to bringing about real-world changes from this research.
This £35 million programme is being funded by the government’s Strategic Priorities Fund and delivered by the Medical Research Council (MRC) with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Scoping and priorities
We will support a wide range of research through this programme, including understanding the factors that might influence mental health as well as exploring preventative strategies and novel intervention approaches. Some research challenges to be addressed may include:
- understanding the different factors that impact individuals during adolescence and how they interact, including genes, environment and social interactions
- learning what mitigates risk and enables resilience
- learning how to identify vulnerable young people early
- exploring new methods, resources and ways of working
- increasing the evidence base around what works well in schools for mental health support
- developing a better understanding of online harms and how digital technology can be harnessed to promote positive mental wellbeing.
The programme will run until 2026 and is being delivered through four interlinked areas of activity.
Flagship research programmes
Multidisciplinary teams will address major research challenges, helping to identify what more effective prevention and intervention approaches for young people’s mental health might look like.
This workstream will generate and embed new research methods, tools, measures and resources in the field.
This workstream will establish a UK-wide network of researchers and stakeholders, oriented to the challenge in question, creating and strengthening multidisciplinary research collaborations, and facilitating interactions with policymakers, health, social care and education sectors. Critically, the voice of young people will be central to these developments.
Stakeholder engagement and knowledge mobilisation
This workstream will accelerate the implementation of research evidence into policy and practice by linking researchers, stakeholders and relevant organisations that share knowledge.
Several other government departments, including devolved governments, have supported the development of this programme and remain engaged in its delivery.
Young person’s advisory group
An advisory group has been established to ensure that the direct experience of young people living with mental health issues is at the centre of the programme. The group provides guidance and advice as part of the programme’s governance structure, helps shape the involvement of young people on our funding panels and assessment processes, and co-facilitates training as part of this.
Involvement of young people
Beyond the young person’s advisory group, a wide group of young people are involved in the programme. This includes young people helping us to review proposals, sit on funding panels, participate in interviews and contribute to scoping workshops.