Young Minds Matter: towards better evidence – a special Cochrane blog series

Launching a special series of blogs on children and young people’s mental health, #YoungMindsMatter, joint Co-ordinating Editors of Cochrane Common Mental Disorders (CCMD), Associate Professor Sarah Hetrick and Professor Rachel Churchill, introduce the CCMD Children and Young People satellite that is taking up the challenge of ensuring that good quality, meaningful evidence is available to support decision making, and give a taste of what you can expect from the series.

Let’s focus on children and young people

International evidence shows that 20% of young people experience a mental health problem in any given year [1] and 50% of mental health problems are established by the age of 14 [2]. Mental and substance use disorders explain the bulk of burden of disease in young people aged 12-25 [3] and represent a key risk factor for suicide. Investment in child and youth mental health is essential to prevent the adverse sequelae of child and youth-onset mental health problems and ensure relevant, meaningful and high-quality evidence to support decision-making by individuals making choices about their own health and wellbeing, as well as those making decisions about investments in services.

Introducing the Cochrane Common Mental Disorders Children and Young People satellite (CCMD-CYP)

Systematic reviews are one of the best decision-making tools for healthcare decision and policy making [4]. The Cochrane Common Mental Disorders (CCMD) Group has published over 200 Cochrane reviews, aiming to provide the best available evidence on what works, what might harm and where further research is needed for people with common mental disorders.

To enhance its editorial and research capacity to inform decision-making with children and young people with emerging or existing common mental disorders, the group has established a Satellite of CCMD to focus specifically on the mental health evidence needs of children and young people. Engaging young people with lived experience and the use of co-production processes has resulted in the creation of key principles for the work of the group.

Guiding principles for children and young people's mental health research: use a strength, not a deficit based model; focus on wellbeing and not illness; youth-friendly methods to involve young people; be inclusive - young people are diverse; value young people's involvement and make their experience central to all of our research;  rooted in what young people want and their understanding of mental health; address the complex and changing relationship between community and young people; cultural relevance to indigenous population groups should be non-negotiable

Engaging young people in our work

The initial focus of the Satellite has been on identifying high priority research gaps that will be the focus of evidence syntheses for the group, resulting in identification of important questions about the prevention and treatment of common mental disorders in children and young people and a vehicle to address these priorities in a way that informs decision-making. This is an ongoing activity, engaging a broad range of stakeholders, and in particular young people themselves. One of our current priority setting activities is a survey exploring evidence gaps for children and young people’s mental health, and we are eager for those who engage with this blog series to fill in and share the survey. Please complete the survey. 

It can be difficult to involve young people in the production of systematic reviews in a meaningful way and not much guidance exists about how to do this. For example, what are the questions that are relevant to this group and will the evidence be useful to young people? The satellite is also working with young people and other stakeholders to develop a framework which outlines how to do this.

Coming up in this special series

Throughout February we will be exploring ideas, initiatives and approaches to supporting children and young people’s mental health through a series of guest blogs. We will look at how we, along with key partners, engage and include young people in our work and help them contribute to developing our evidence as well as supporting them to use it. We will share our thinking on the responsibility of using images to communicate mental health research findings, which will also be the topic of a tweetchat on Wednesday 12th February. We will also look at recent evidence for interventions in young people with chronic illness and the activities we are involved in around suicide prevention.

We really want to hear what you have to say, so please follow our #YoungMindsMatter series and join the conversation on Twitter with @Cochrane_CCMD @CochraneUK , @SarahShetrick and @ChurchillRachel, join our tweetchat at 20.00 GMT on Wednesday 12th February or leave comments on the blogs.

References (pdf).

Funding Acknowledgement: The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the largest single funder of the Cochrane Common Mental Disorders Group.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the UK National Health Service, the NIHR, or the UK Department of Health and Social Care.

Disclosure of interest:

Rachel Churchill reports grants from NIHR, during the conduct of the work.

Sarah Hetrick reports grants from Royal Society of New Zealand, grants from Faculty Research Development Fund-Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, during the conduct of the work; grants from Auckland Medical Research Foundation Douglas Goodfellow Repatriation Fellowship, outside the submitted work; and I am the joint co-ordinating editor of the Cochrane Common Mental Disorders Group and take responsibility for the Child and Young Person Satellite.

Sarah Hetrick

About Sarah Hetrick

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Sarah is the joint co-ordinating editor of the Cochrane Common Mental Disorders Group (CCMD) and responsible for the Child and Young People satellite of this group. CCMD is funded by the National Institute for Health Research and has a portfolio of Cochrane reviews that assess the effects (including harms) of treatments in the prevention and management of a range of mental health problems. Sarah is based at the University of Auckland where she is the Associate Professor in Youth Mental Health, and is funded by the Auckland Medical Research Foundation for a programme of work in the area of self-harm and suicide prevention. The Satellite has been funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand with a Catalyst Seeding grant, and a Faculty Research Development Fund from the University of Auckland Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. Sarah is a kiwi who trained as a clinical psychologist in Melbourne, Australia and worked for many years at Orygen (University of Melbourne) both clinically and in research, focused on evidence synthesis and implementation in the area of youth depression and suicide prevention. More recently she has had a focus on the role of technology and digital interventions and their impact on youth mental health. While she has continued to be involved in a large number of clinical trials, her passion is about ensuring implementation of the results of these trials into real world practice and policy. To this end, she is driven to ensure that the research agenda is co-designed with young people, research is undertaken and implemented in partnership with young people with lived experience, as a way to ensure real impact.

2 Comments on this post

  1. Avatar

    Helpful sight

    Claudette Lennon / Reply
  2. Avatar

    This is fantastic news. I am a supporter of both Cochrane and Young Minds and would love to keep up-to-date with any new initiatives regarding this partnership.

    Ana / Reply

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