A mental health network in north-west London has won the inaugural NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) Public and Patient Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) competition, in recognition of their efforts to involve children and young people in research. Congratulations to ARC Outreach Alliance: Young People’s Open Minds in Northwest London.
We strongly believe that the public must always be at the heart of research and launched this competition to highlight the outstanding PPIE activities taking place across north-west London. Our judging panel, made up of academics and one of our community partners, selected the ARC Outreach Alliance from a strong group of nominees.
The ARC Outreach Alliance brings together researchers, practitioners, health professionals, charities, local authorities, and members of the public living or working in northwest London. The aim is to help shape a mental health research agenda for the region – and ultimately improve mental health and wellbeing, reducing health inequalities among children and young people. This is one of the priorities within our Brain Sciences theme.
After securing £750k from the NIHR in 2021, the alliance has been working to ensure that:
- mental health research addresses the changing needs of children and young people in the area
- research findings are implemented and inform how resource decisions are made.
To support this aim, they have created infrastructure to support this research with a Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG), representing all eight boroughs, at its heart. YPAG members have advised on research design, co-authored papers, received training and produced a film to promote engagement. The alliance has also improved access to data to inform research and are working with schools to examine the impact of health inequalities (socio-economic, neurodiversity, ethnicity) on access to and benefit from digital mental health interventions.
Dasha Nicholls, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Imperial College London, NIHR BRC-funded researcher and ARC Northwest London Multimorbidity & Mental Health theme lead, said: “We are delighted to receive this PPIE award for our work on young people’s mental health, alongside our partners including Listen to Act and all the young people in our advisory group. This has very much been a team effort.
“An estimated 26,163 CYP had a mental disorder before the pandemic and between 13- 29% of under-twenties were living in poverty. This is likely to have worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic and with the cost-of-living crisis, which only highlights the importance of this work.
“I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who has contributed to the work of the ARC Outreach Alliance to date, which I know will have a huge impact on children and young people in north-west London.”
A YPAG member said: “The young people’s advisory group is made up of young people from diverse backgrounds and experiences and links to other marginalised groups which has influenced every step of decision-making within this research.”
Professor Mark Thursz, director of the NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre, said: “I am proud to launch this competition and delighted that ARC Outreach Alliance are our first winners. Huge congratulations to everyone involved in this brilliant project, especially each of the children and young people contributing to the advisory group.
“Public involvement and participation are absolutely at the heart of our BRC, shaping our research priorities and how we improve health and wellbeing in northwest London. So I am very pleased that over 80 people have signed up to be community partners with our PPIE team, up 18 from our last BRC contract. I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together, for our local community and more widely.”
Watch the video here that introduces the ARC Outreach Alliance – Mental Health and Young Londoners.