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MH:2K is a pioneering new model for engaging young people in conversations about mental health in their local area. 

It empowers 14-25 year olds to:

  • Identify the mental health issues that they see as most important;
  • Engage their peers in discussing and exploring these topics;
  • Work with key local decision-makers and researchers to make recommendations for change.

Mental health conditions affect about 1 in 10 young people, with vulnerable groups particularly at risk. Young people have a unique and vital perspective on their mental health – the challenges they face, information they need, and what is and isn’t working for them.

By harnessing young people’s experiences and views, decision-makers can gain deeper understanding of mental health issues in their area and new insights about effective solutions for prevention, support and services. They can better serve the diversity of their youth populations.

How it works

In each local area, MH:2K involves the following six activities:

  • Recruitment of a core team of young people as ‘Citizen Researchers’, including those with direct experience of mental health issues and individuals from at risk groups.
  • Design Days to allow this team to explore key national and local information about youth mental health, alongside their own views and experiences. The Researchers determine which mental health issues are most significant for their area. They receive training in research, facilitation and public speaking.
  • Roadshow: The Citizen Researchers co-design and co- deliver workshops to engage at least 500 other young people in the topics they have identified to be the most significant for their area. The workshops stimulate informal learning and gather young people’s views on the issues and potential solutions.
  • Results Day: The Citizen Researchers help analyse and extract key findings. They work with local decision-makers and researchers to develop strong, practical recommendations for change.
  • Big Showcase: The Citizen Researchers present their findings and recommendations to key stakeholders at a showcase event, involving facilitated conversations about next steps.
  • An Local Advisory Panel of key local decision-makers, researchers and other stakeholders informs the project’s work throughout its lifetime.

Who’s involved?

MH:2K is delivered by a partnership of Involve and Leaders Unlocked.

In 2016/17, we piloted MH:2K in Oldham, supported by a Wellcome Trust People Award, Oldham Council and Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group. Read the Oldham findings.

From September 2017, we are expanding the programme to work with four more areas. They are Birmingham, Central Lancashire, North Tyneside, and Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. A National Advisory Panel is tracking the project to identify nationally relevant learning. This expanded phase of MH:2K is again supported by Wellcome, as well as by the four participating local areas.


“To be a part of this project means a lot to me, considering where I was 8 months ago. I feel elated about the Roadshow. Some of the pupils we presented to didn’t want to leave, which I think says it all!”

MH:2K Oldham Citizen Researcher

“I have been hugely impressed by MH:2K’s progress so far. I have every confidence that it will deliver valuable insights into what Oldham Council can do to improve youth mental health. I am proud to be part of it.”

Alan Higgins, Director of Public Health, Oldham Council

“It is great to see the CCG, Council, schools and others come together to listen to young people’s concerns and ideas around mental health and well-being. I look forward to working with colleagues at Oldham CCG to take on board the project’s findings and improve outcomes for local young people.”

Keith Jeffery, Clinical Director for Mental Health for Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group

“As a global health foundation, Wellcome is interested in finding new ways to involve people in research, and we’re excited to support MH:2K because they are doing just that.  Mental health is a key issue for young people, that’s why it is so important to have them at the heart of finding meaningful solutions.”

Anna Pollard, Engaging Science Portfolio Manager, Wellcome


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