Young peer researchers add value with lived experience, for Ecorys mental health study

Ecorys is studying the Children and Young People work within the Time to Change mental health anti-stigma campaign. This involved a number of different research tasks: as well as survey work with teachers and pupils across England, we have been visiting case study schools to find out about the impact of Time to Change work in their setting and ‘listening’ to the interactions of Champions on social media.

Researchers are also working with young campaigners to build their skills in evaluation and accrediting them as Young Evaluators. This aspect of the project has been particularly rewarding for the Ecorys team. The Young Evaluators all bring lived experience of mental health problems and this gives them a unique perspective on the schools that we visit.

“It is lovely to see how both male and female teachers make a conscious effort to role model talking healthily about emotions and wellbeing and encourage parents to join these conversations too, especially when these come with free tea and cake!” commented one of our young peer researchers on a recent case study visit. “I was really moved to hear of some of the instances where [the children] have supported and validated one another, drawing upon their own experiences and humour.”

A recent survey of the research team at Ecorys found that levels of experience in working with participants was high, and that even the least experienced team members had engaged participants as ‘testers’ for research tools. Colleagues told us that researchers invest time, energy and professional relationships into including participants out of a genuine desire to improve the content or quality of their reports and findings.

For more information please contact Kate.Merriam@ecorys.com