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Scientists hunt for big idea to transform young people’s mental health

Thirty scientists today begin an intensive three-day hunt to find an idea that could reshape our understanding of mental illness in young people – and secure up to £2m in MQ research funding as part of our Brighter Futures programme

The scientists, who span disciplines including neuroscience, social sciences and policy, will work in multidisciplinary teams at our three-day Innovation Hub workshop.

We’ve challenged the researchers to find ideas that could increase understanding of how mental illness develops and help to identify the young people most at risk of becoming unwell.

At the end of the workshop, an advisory team of world-leading scientists will judge and select the idea they believe has the greatest potential. Members of the winning team will then develop the idea together, before receiving up to £2m in funding from MQ to put their idea to the test. 

“A wealth of tantalising evidence suggests that many mental health problems are preventable, but precisely how and where to intervene remains a formidable challenge,” said Professor Carol Worthman, one of the expert panel judging the ideas.

“We are betting that these challenges can be met by multidisciplinary, international teams.”

The workshop is designed to foster collaboration, with researchers encouraged to think beyond their own disciplines as they search together for novel research questions with the power to unlock new knowledge about mental illness.

This is the first time this approach has been used to develop a research proposal involving mental health science. A similar approach has previously been used successfully by organisations including Cancer Research UK. 

“Some 75% of mental illnesses begin before the age of 18, and in an average school class of 30 young people, three will have a diagnosable mental illness,” said Cynthia Joyce, Chief Executive of MQ. 

“By bringing together people with varied specialisms, backgrounds and approaches through the Innovation Hub, our aim is to inspire new ways of thinking about mental health, and ultimately to move towards new, far more effective ways of responding to mental illness in young people.”

Last updated: 16 March 2017

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