Topic  Sharing learning from a co-research project titled “Nothing about us without us: civic activism as a mental health intervention with young people”
Date  Thursday 22 July 2021
Time  16:00–17:30
Location  Online (please arrive in the online platform 5 minutes before the session starts)
Tickets  Book a place

Session Summary

This session will be presented by a co-research team of young people and adults who share an ambition to improve the mental health of young people. We keep reading lots of reports saying youth mental health in the UK is getting worse, and that support available doesn’t always work. We applied for and got some research money from the Medical Research Council (MRC), Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to expand our work in exploring other ways to improve our mental health. We wanted to know “Does getting involved in activism and campaigning benefit young people who face many disadvantages?”  We thought this was a topic worth researching because we have experienced for ourselves the benefits of getting involved in these kind of projects, and also the changes we can achieve in systems that aren’t very fair in the first place. We use the Boingboing approach to resilience to help us understand this, which we capture as ‘beating the odds whilst also changing the odds’. You can read more about our research proposal.

And after a lot of hard work researching together, we are ready to share some of our learning with you!

You will hear from youth and adult co-researchers from Blackpool, Newham and Cornwall and some of the researchers working alongside who are based at the University of Brighton and Queens University Belfast. We will specifically talk about:

  • Our ‘literature review’ – what we have found out about what others worldwide have already published on building young people’s positive identities when they are facing many disadvantages
  • What we found out by running social learning spaces that explored how through activism, young people are connecting with their communities’ history (Blackpool); how young people are getting actively involved with their present communities (Newham), and how young people are actively contributing to their communities’ future (Cornwall)
  • What our learning means for us, our communities, the services aiming to improve youth mental health and what we think needs further research (and especially research that is co-produced)


Our co-research team come from different generations, professions and backgrounds; young people, adult community researchers, academics, youth workers and mental health professionals. You can read more about our team. This Resilience Forum will hear from some of the youth and adult co-researchers from each of the research locations in Blackpool, Newham and Cornwall.

Who might be most interested

The session is aimed at anyone who wants to explore different ways of improving youth mental health, especially those who are interested in ways that directly tackle inequality and injustice as part of the ‘intervention’. This includes young people and youth activists, academic researchers and strategic leads, PhD students, Research Council and other funders, people who offer mental health services for young people, those who write or influence mental health policy, community organisations, parents, carers and supporters.

It is also aimed at anyone interested in authentically co-producing research and looking at ways research can be made more inclusive for young people facing multiple systemic disadvantage – a pragmatic term we settled on together when discussing the complexities of labelling people as ‘disadvantaged’. We mean those of us who have experienced discrimination due to disability, race, gender, religion, sexuality and/or living in poverty, for example.

Access Information

The Resilience Forum will be held online on Microsoft Teams. Please arrive in the online platform 5 minutes before the start of the session.  An email with instructions will be sent out the day before. We have chosen this platform as it appears to be more secure and transparent in its data practices than many others. Please see Boingboing’s privacy statement for more information about Microsoft Teams terms and conditions.

The Resilience Forum

The Resilience Forum is a monthly space, held jointly by the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice and Boingboing. We welcome and encourage discussion, disagreement and debate about resilience research and practice. Presenters at the Resilience Forum have included parents, young people, academics and practitioners. ANYBODY (with a pulse!) involved with or interested in resilience research is welcome and attendance at the Resilience Forum is free. We only ask that you have tried to get your head around our resilience approach or at least something specific on resilience before you come so we all have a basic shared understanding. You might also like to read this jargon busting sheet.