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Three young adults sitting at a table with laptops, notebooks and drinks and laughing.

Citizen science and youth mental health: co-creating future research

Rhys Archer prepared insights from the Youth LIVES (Youth Lived experience of Evidence Synthesis) project for presentation at the European Network for Mental Health Service Evaluation (ENMESH) conference in Versailles. Her presentation was due to be part of a symposium titled “Citizen science in mental health: three examples of an emerging approach”, which also included presentations from researchers at the Universities of Nottingham and Plymouth. See her presentation.

4 July 2024

Youth mental health is a global priority challenge. Meeting this challenge will require mental health researchers to involve young people, not merely as participants in their studies or recipients of their findings, but as partners and leaders in their own right. This requires an innovative citizen science approach: adopting radically different ways of working with young people that empower them to contribute equally throughout the research process. This approach enhances both researchers’ and young peoples’ knowledge and skills. It can also ensure that the research conducted is more relevant, accessible and impactful.

Youth LIVES is a project funded through a UKRI Citizen Science Collaboration award. We have brought together young people with lived experience of mental health problems, with mental health researchers. They have collaborated to discover evidence gaps and co-create mental health based research proposals that meet the needs and priorities of young people themselves.

The project has generated two unique types of knowledge:

  1. new, innovative and relevant angles on mental health research, with new research insights developed from the lived experience and perspectives of the youth co-researchers and incorporated into research proposals;
  2. learning about participatory methods with communities in mental health research, policy and practice, from evaluation of the participants’ experience of taking part in the project.

There are many perceived benefits to embedding co-creation within mental health research but, in the current UK climate, there are also significant barriers to conducting citizen science in research institutions. This talk will explore both the contribution citizen science can make to mental health research and the challenges this poses.

The ENMESH conference

The European Network for Mental Health Service Evaluation (ENMESH) is a network of active researchers in the field of Mental Health Service Research and Evaluation. This 15th ENMESH conference has the central theme “Evaluation in mental health services: everyone’s business” and gives special focus to four topics: (1) users’ lived experiences, (2) child and adolescent mental health, (3) health system and interdisciplinary approaches to quality, and (4) new frontiers for research and policy.

The symposium – Citizen science in mental health: three examples of an emerging approach

There is a growing interest in mental health and its challenges among the public, as evidenced by a wide range of community groups which actively campaign for and contribute to mental health provision. Citizen science is emerging as an important approach for engaging with the general public and people with lived experience of mental health. This symposium supports the growth of a coherent approach to conducting mental health citizen science research, by bringing together presentations on current and emerging projects. The organizers aim to demonstrate a variety of approaches taken to date and identify emerging foci.

Rhys’s presentation is one of three in the symposium:

Citizen Science and Youth Mental Health: Co-creating Future Research

Rhys Archer & Sarah West (SEI York), Sarah Knowles (Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York)

UK Empowering citizens and communities to make meaning from mental health service narratives

Stefan Rennick-Egglestone & Caroline Yeo (School of Health Sciences, Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham), Alex Stirzaker & Richard Byng (University of Plymouth)

Frontiers in mental health research – Findings from the C-STACS mental health citizen science project

Olamide Todowede, Stefan Rennick-Egglestone & Mike Slade (University of Nottingham)

Rhys Archer
Rhys Archer

Presenter and symposium organizer

SEI York

Sarah West


SEI York

You are welcome to download Rhys’s presentation (link below). Please contact Rhys if you wish to share share this presentation through other channels, or use any of the content, thank you.

SEI York’s Citizen Science Research Group has been designing, running, evaluating, and consulting on citizen science projects on a wide range of topics since 2008, as well as publishing impactful research on Citizen Science theory.

Topics and subtopics
Health : Well-being
Related centres
SEI York

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