Two weeks ago, we brought together 14 young people with direct or indirect experience of mental illness to give their views and offer insights into the research we’re funding.
These young people, aged 18-25, make up our Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG), which has been set up to ensure young people remain at the heart of our work. Their involvement in building our research follows our guiding principle – ‘Don’t talk about us, without us.’
The meeting was the second of four planned this year. And a key focus was on developments in our new young people’s programme, Brighter Futures, following our innovation workshop last month. The YPAG will play an important role in helping us to build and develop this programme.
The group also explored new research we’re funding into virtual reality treatments for schizophrenia. Alba, a social scientist who works with Assistant Professor Andrew Thompson at Warwick, talked through their innovative new research and demonstrated the new technology. The YPAG were then able to contribute to ways study might be improved.
Alba told us: “I found the experience productive and enriching – the group’s comments were insightful and kind – their suggestions will guide our design of the therapeutic environment and the next steps for our research.”
This public and patient involvement (PPI) empowers individuals to contribute their personal experiences with a health condition to improve the quality of research. The YPAG provides the opportunity to make research more relevant to the needs of people with lived experience of mental illness and their loved ones, which aims to improve the quality of the research being conducted.
One YPAG member named Andy, told us: “Research is sometimes thought of as being ‘artificial’ and lacks generalizability, by having PPI 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”.
While PPI offers benefits to research, it is MQ’s intention that the young people participating also gain scientific and other skills.
JT, another YPAG member, explained: “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!”
The next meeting will take place during Summer.
Last updated: 8 May 2017