Children and young people’s mental health research

The National Institute for Health Research funds research into mental health because we believe that mental health is just as important as physical health.

As the ‘Time to Change’ website says, “One in ten young people will experience a mental health problem.” This could be you, your brother or sister, or a friend.

We want to raise awareness of mental health research amongst children and young people; it is through your personal experience we can make a difference. This page will give you an understanding of research, why it is important and how you can find out more.

Children and young people, just like you, are already shaping the way that mental health services and treatments will be delivered in the future.

Let’s #timetotalk about #NHSresearch

Sasha’s Trial

Sasha struggles with anxiety and her Grandad is living with dementia. They share a touching closeness, despite the differences in their ages and outlooks. Together they explore the challenges of their medical conditions and the subject of clinical research.

What is research and why is it important?

The people who carry out research are mostly the same doctors and healthcare professionals who treat people across the NHS. Their aim is to find better ways of looking after patients and keeping people healthy.

There are many different types of research, covering a range of activities, from working in a scientific laboratory to carefully noting patterns of health and disease to developing new treatments.

Health and social care research looks at many different issues, from illness, disease and disability to the way health and social care services are provided.

People being cared for in the NHS benefit from past research, and continue to benefit from research that’s currently being carried out.

Doctors and healthcare professionals know a great deal about health, disease and treatments, but there are still some things that are unknown. Research can help find answers to things that are unknown, filling gaps in knowledge and changing the way that doctors and healthcare professionals deliver care.

This means that treatment, care and patients’ quality of life can be improved.


The NIHR Clinical Research Network helps researchers to set up and deliver clinical research studies quickly and effectively, provides doctors and healthcare professionals with research training and works with patients to ensure their needs are at the very centre of all research activity.

We support a wide range of research studies that examine the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of mental health conditions. It is through research that we can understand mental health better and find ways to prevent and treat mental health early on in a child or young person’s life.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can get involved in research at any age, and you don’t have to physically take part in a research study to make a difference. Research teams also work with groups of children and young people to shape the way research studies are designed and delivered. Find out more on the next tab…

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Sally Davies

Research stories


Professor Paul French is Joint Chief Investigator of the PRODIGY study at Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. He gives us an overview of the study looking at the prevention of long-term social disability in young people with emerging psychological difficulties…

The PRODIGY Advisory Team

Once a research participant in a mental health study, Rory now leads the PRODIGY Advisory Team, a group of young people aged between 17-24 years who have helped to shape the PRODIGY study…

Young People’s Advisory Group: Youth Speak

Youth Speak is a group of young people aged between 14-24 years. The group share common goals to influence mental health research and to strive for better mental health for young people. They want to make a positive difference to mental health and believe that this can be achieved through research and by tackling stigma.

The NIHR have worked with Youth Speak on various research projects, you can read about these projects on the Youth Speak website.

Follow Youth Speak on Twitter @YouthSpeakMH

Til Wykes

Kathryn Abel

How can I find out more about research?

There are three ways to find out more about research…

1. Find out about research studies in your area

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If you have a mental health condition and are undergoing treatment, why not ask your family doctor or healthcare professional about clinical research, and whether it might be right for you.



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Ask your local Clinical Research Network if they have any open research studies – select your nearest Clinical Research Network from the drop down menu here.


2. Find out about Young People’s Advisory Groups

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Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Nottingham


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Young Dynamos

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Youth Speak


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Young People’s Mental Health Advisory Group


3. Learn about research

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Our quarterly ‘Campaign’ newsletter, for patients, carers and the general public, provides all the latest news and activities you can get involved with – to sign-up simply register your email address here.



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Find out about our FREE Massive Open Online Course ‘MOOC’, ‘Improving Healthcare Through Clincal Research’, the next course is in June 2016 – watch the trailor and register your interest here.

Have your say…


  • Why you think #NHSresearch is important?
  • Why you think children and young people’s involvement in #NHSresearch is important?
  • What you would like to see on the #NHSresearch agenda?

Join our TweetChat…

We are hosting a TweetChat on Thursday 18 February between 7-8pm with mental health experts and charities.

If you’re a young person, parent, guardian or carer and have a question about mental health or research please Tweet us at @NIHRCRN using #NHSresearch during the session.


FREE #MeSearch event, London
13 February 2016, 12:00-16:30

Are you:

  • Aged 11-25?
  • Interested in mental health research?
  • Wanting to know more?

Join the Young People’s Mental Health Advisory Group at their #MeSearch event. View the event poster for more details.

How can I find out more about mental health?


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Action on Addiction brings help, hope and freedom to those living with addiction and those living with people who suffer problems of addiction.


Alcohol concern 100x61Alcohol Concern is a small independent charity that is committed to reducing harm from alcohol-related problems.


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Anxiety UK works to relieve and support those living with anxiety disorders by providing information, support and understanding via an extensive range of services, including 1:1 therapy.


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Beat is the UK’s leading charity supporting anyone affected by eating disorders or difficulties with food, weight and shape.




Harmless is a national voluntary organisation for people who self harm, their friends, families and professionals.


PrintThe National Autistic Society (NAS). Many people on the autism spectrum struggle with mental health problems, including an estimated 71% of children. The NAS provides information, support and services, and campaigns for a better world for people on the autism spectrum.



OCD Action provides support and information to anybody affected by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

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Mental health problems are common – but nearly nine out of ten people who experience them say they face stigma and discrimination as a result. This can be even worse than the symptoms themselves. Time to Change is England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination.



Other useful links

NHS Choices ‘Youth Mental Health’

An information hub offering young people advice and help on mental health problems including depression, anxiety and stress.

Big White Wall

A safe online community of people who are anxious, down or not coping who support and help each other by sharing what’s troubling them, guided by trained professionals.

NIHRat10longbluetextThe Clinical Research Network is part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the research arm of the NHS. This year the NIHR celebrates its 10th anniversary.