The Big Emerging Minds Summit

The Next Steps

A central aim of the Summit was to foster connections and spark ideas for how to put research into action. During the Summit’s closing plenary, we asked delegates to use their Next Steps footprints to share reflections, hopes, and ideas for both their personal and our collective next steps in children’s and young people’s mental health research. Delegates kept their personal Next Steps and pegged their collective Next Steps around the Summit theatre, creating a wall of hope and action for the future.

Our intern Rowan analysed the collective Next Steps to identify the main themes that came up when thinking about what we, as researchers, young people, families, clinicians, practitioners, commissioners, and policy-makers can do for the future.

The key themes and sub-themes were:  

  • Sustainability in research and practice 
    • Sharing and actioning research 
    • Communication and collaboration within the research community 
  • Co-production and amplifying lived experience 
  • Actioning diversity and accessibility 
    • Modelling inclusive research and practice 
    • Making the effort to reach out 
  • Engaging the public 
  • Reforming the system 

Sustainability in research and practice

A prominent thread among delegates was ensuring sustainability. We identified two sub-themes in responses about sustainability. The first centred on sharing and actioning research: ensuring that findings from the research networks are implemented into practice, shared outside of academia, taught to new practitioners, and incorporated into policy on a long-term basis. The second sub-theme was community dialogues and collaboration. Delegates expressed enthusiasm for keeping researchers connected and encouraging further collaborations across institutions and disciplines.

Sharing and actioning research

The research findings produced through the network need to be easily available to participants and the public, and concrete plans for implementation and action should be made on all levels of involvement with mental health care.

Community dialogues and collaboration

There is a desire to maintain communication between people involved in research, champion collaboration across disciplines, and continue creating accessible spaces for discussing mental health research and practice.  

Turning words and findings into action!! Getting schools/CAMHS/government to implement important changes and reforms from all the amazing SIRGs.

Keep collaborating, building networks and working together! Let’s not lose momentum 

Co-production and amplifying lived experience

Including young people in research as equal partners through co-production respects and values their lived experience. Delegates highlighted the importance of co-production and listening to the voices of young people and parents/carers. Researchers, practitioners, and those with the capacity to impact change should listen and engage meaningfully with young people’s own voices and those of their parents and carers. Creating opportunities for people with lived experience through co-production is key to relevant and effective research. Mental health research and interventions should be designed and implemented together with the people they will affect. 

   Embrace the knowledge and wisdom coming from CYP, families, and communities

     Building more capacity for coproduction e.g. time, funding, better systems, considering how to be inclusive and allow meaningful co-production

Actioning diversity and accessibility

Issues of diversity and accessibility were significant themes in the delegates’ Next Steps. We identified two sub-themes: modelling inclusive research and practice, and making the effort to reach out.  

Modelling inclusive research and practice 

Researchers and practitioners are responsible for ensuring their work accurately reflects the complexities of mental health experiences. Intersectionality, flexibility, and reflexivity are needed for research and practice to be meaningful.

Making the effort to reach out 

Engaging marginalised and underrepresented populations is essential for inclusive and relevant research and practice. Outputs such as research findings and clinical interventions need to be accessible, and researchers/practitioners should consider creative solutions. Systemic improvements can come from funders and commissioners.

   Do not be afraid to research unconventional or heavy topics – push boundaries, amplify the ignored or unheard voices, and be LED by your research, not your hypothesis

Prioritise reaching out to and including diverse groups/people with lived experience. Push funders to require this in their funding calls

Engaging the public

Implementing change means that decision-makers like politicians and policy-makers should be actively engaged with research outputs. Working to bring educators, health and social workers, and the wider community into the conversation means that a range of voices can be heard. Delegate responses included the education system and the government as key examples, as well as the local and national communities.

   Help us amplify these messages to people in positions of power e.g. what changes are needed in schools, CAMHS & other organisations

Lobbying for a funded public forum that represents the population and can be used to set priorities for research

Reforming the system

There was a strong response from delegates calling for our next steps to include wide-scale change to mental health systems. Responses indicated that established institutions, processes, and attitudes do not always support wellbeing, and can be actively harmful to children and young people’s mental health. Systemic reform is needed in politics, education, healthcare, and research to create sustainable and equitable outcomes. Researchers and practitioners can commit to improving their own practice and lobbying for change in wider arenas.

   Keep fighting for change to better promote wellbeing for all children. Stop/reduce inequalities people face. Change society and the system for the better

Don’t be afraid to question ‘the system’. Dismantle – Renovate – Redesign – Discard – New ideas. Question whether ways of doing research are supporting us to listen and observe and learn from people with lived experience

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