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Partnering for powerful change in children and young people’s mental health research

 
Louise Jones, Director of Programmes at What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC), explains how WWCSC are teaming up with the NIHR to fund research into children and young people’s mental health.
 
In early 2020, we asked care-experienced people, children’s social care practitioners, families, academics  and others, about the areas we should be prioritising for future research. The mental health of children and young people came high up on the list.
 
We know that mental ill health in childhood and adolescence can have an impact long into adulthood, and that children and young people with a social worker are more likely to experience mental illness. It is often unclear, however, how best to support these young people with these challenges.
 
That’s why I’m delighted that WWCSC is working with the NIHR’s Health Service and Delivery Research Programme for this funding opportunity. Research will be funded to evaluate interventions that support children and young people with mental health conditions who have, or have had, a social worker.

Better outcomes for service users

This partnership is an important milestone in the evidence-based setting. Both organisations have a shared aim to support rigorous evaluative research, which is accessible and has the potential to inform practice and lead to better outcomes for service users. Additionally, both organisations have independently identified children and young people’s mental health as a key area of importance. We both recognise that a shared partnership will provide an opportunity for greater reach.
 
WWCSC is well-known for working with sector professionals (such as children’s social care professionals in local authorities, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), partners in other agencies, or third sector providers), while NIHR are heavily involved in health and social care research and evaluation. This partnership will lead to greater exposure for more collaborative partnerships between the sectors and hopefully leads to more joint research proposals from sector professionals and researchers.
 
Previously, WWCSC have selected interventions to fund, and then chosen the evaluators to design and carry out the evaluation. By collaborating with the NIHR, we are looking for joint applications from sector professionals, and researchers. We want applications that detail a programme, intervention or approach, as well as how the research will be conducted.

‘Match-making’ research

WWCSC will be on hand to help sector professionals find their perfect research match. We’ll provide guidance on the kinds of research methodologies that would be most suitable for each project, as well as what questions to ask, and areas to consider. We’ll also be running a number of online ‘match-making’ workshops, where applicants can present their idea to researchers and evaluators, and then answer questions.
 
By joining forces with NIHR, our combination of size, reach and sector knowledge can make a real difference by enabling us to build an evidence base, and improve outcomes for children and young people. I’m excited about trying this new approach to applications, and look forward to reviewing the applications
 
 
 
Louise Jones, Director of Programmes at What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC).
 

This means anyone who has been, or is currently in care, or from a looked-after background, at any stage in their life.
For more information, please email the HS&DR Programme on hsdr@nihr.ac.uk
Find out more about the HS&DR Programme.
Find out more on the WWCSC website.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.