"I want to do something positive with my experiences" - how and why young people are involved in the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre

Presentation First Author: 
Rebecca Randall

Introduction: Involving young people in developing and designing mental health interventions may lead to higher rates of use and subsequently promote positive mental health. However, little is known about how young people have been involved in intervention development. The current research project aimed to investigate how youth participation methodologies are used in mental health research and the design of mental health interventions. In particular it sought to investigate the involvement of young people who contributed to the Australian multi-institutional cooperative research program (the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre (CRC)). A guiding principle of this CRC is the use of youth participation methodologies in the development of technology-based mental health interventions.


- To profile how and why young people are involved in technology-based mental health work and how it may have affected them.

- To compare how young people and professionals view their involvement.


Five interconnected studies examining young peoples’ involvement in the CRC were undertaken.

1. A focus group study examining participants’ previous involvement in research, motivations for engagement, and methods used in involving participants in research.

2. A qualitative interview study of professionals involved in the CRC examining their perspectives about involving young people in research.

3. A thematic analysis of written applications from the Youth Brains Trust (the CRC’s youth advisory board) over a three year period examining applicants’ reasons for applying to be part of the YBT.

4. A mixed method survey of applicants to the 2013 YBT to examine changes (over 12 months) which may have occurred as a result of being part of the YBT on characteristics such mental health status, civic engagement and use of technology.

5. A mixed methods survey of young Australians comparing those previously involved in the Young and Well CRC, those involved in other volunteer work and those who have not participated in volunteer work.


An overview of findings from the above studies will be presented.

Preliminary findings suggest:

• Young people who became involved in the CRC did so with the aim of contributing to others’ wellbeing.

• Young people who became involved are more likely than young people in general to have experienced mental illness.

• Professionals viewed young people’s involvement in the CRC as both challenging and beneficial.

Conclusion: The findings will contribute to the understanding of the challenges and optimal means for involving young people in the development of mental health interventions.

Conference Name: 
Date of Presentation: 
9th Oct 2015
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