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Four young people describe why they’re helping shape research

Our Young People’s Advisory Group was set up so young people with direct or indirect experience of mental illness could provide invaluable feedback on our research projects. The group meets four times a year, ensuring young people’s views and opinions remain at the heart of what we do.

We asked four of the members why they’ve decided to be a part of it.

Megan (pictured)

“A lot of my interest in mental health research stems from my own experiences of mental illness. After several years, I've reached a point of wanting to understand why I and others around me became ill in the first place, so that we can prevent future generations facing the same issues.

Public and patient involvement is vital, as without input from people with lived experience it would be entirely possible to overlook some of the challenges that people with mental illnesses face. Everyone should have a chance at being benefitted by research, not just those with textbook cases. 

For me, the meetings are an opportunity to be around people of a similar mindset. It affords me the knowledge that on four occasions this year, I'm not going to be ‘the mental health girl’, because mental health is a common interest for everyone in the group.

What I'll gain from the experience of being in the group isn't really something I've considered. I've mostly been focused on what I can give. That said, I think the first meeting was the push I needed to apply for college, something I've not felt able to do beforehand. The meeting taught me new things and got me back to a point where my interest in learning is greater than my anxiety linked to my fear of failing.”

Karina 

“Mental health research has interested me from both a personal and scientific level. I have always been intrigued as to what goes on to understand the concepts behind mental illnesses.  As someone with a mental health condition, I feel MQ provides that information and I enjoy the fact that we can contribute in helping shape the research using our experiences, which is fundamental in improving mental health care. 

I am currently studying for a medical degree and I hope that learning from others experiences, as well as my own, will aid my clinical practice in the future. It's been a wonderful experience so far and I have met so many amazing individuals!”

JT

“I enjoy providing feedback and suggestions knowing that they might actually contribute to future research and people struggling in ways I have struggled. Because living with mental illness has meant that my opinions have often been shut down, it means a lot for my voice to be heard in a safe space. I have met some great people and gained a lot of skills already. It has also given me more confidence to speak in a group and stand up for what I believe in with pride!”

Andy

“Research is sometimes thought of as being ‘artificial’ and lacks generalizability, by having patient and public involvement throughout the stages of research it ensures that the research is actually investigating the topic of interest of those it is representing as well as possible.”

Find out more about our Young People’s Advisory Group.

Last updated: 26 July 2017

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© MQ: Transforming mental health 2016 | Registered charity in England / Wales: 1139916 & Scotland: SC046075 | Company number: 7406055