On 16 November 2022, ARC North Thames PhD researcher Rosa Town (she/her) hosted a community event on LGBTQ+ Young People’s Emotional Health Self-Management. The event, hosted at Queer Britain in King’s Cross, aimed to shine a light on emotional health self-management amongst LGBTQ+ young people in London.
The event inspired creative thinking about emotional health self-management – that is, how a person might act to manage symptoms, avoid relapse and improve their wellbeing on a daily basis. Participants were invited to share what self-management meant to them using a number of creative methods, including drawing, storytelling, and collage making.
Recent evidence shows that one in three LGBTQ+ young people in the UK will experience a mental health disorder, and emotional problems are amongst the most common difficulties faced by this group. Many LGBTQ+ young people choose to self-manage their emotional health, rather than seeking specialist mental health treatment. However, little is known about the barriers and facilitators to LGBTQ+ adolescents’ self-management, as well as what they actually do to self-manage.
Rosa, who is completing her NIHR ARC North Thames-funded PhD at University College London, focusses on LGBTQ+ adolescents’ emotional health with a view to filling a gap in the research. Reflecting on the event, she said:
“Working in a children and young people's mental health service in London, I know that there are many unanswered questions about adolescents’ self-management of emotional problems. In particular, LGBTQ+ adolescents’ health needs are often misunderstood, and this compounds the minority stress already faced by this group. Therefore, this event was all about co-production and knowledge exchange, with the goal of informing future interventions targeting LGBTQ+ emotional health self-management, and to help other LGBTQ+ adolescents in the UK who may be struggling with their emotional health. A big part of holding this event at Queer Britain was to validate and celebrate LGBTQ+ adolescents and to champion inclusive queer spaces in London.”
The event was funded by the UCL Engagement Beacon Bursary scheme, which supports creative engagement projects with communities across London, the UK and beyond, who are not often heard from in academia.
William Lammons (he/him), the ARC North Thames’ Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Lead, provided invaluable support to Rosa by facilitating discussion for the event and producing videography. He added more explanation on the event’s underpinning concepts:
“Co-production is all about power-sharing in research – giving members of the public the skills, tools, and space to lead on research, which is typically held by researchers and clinicians on the academic and clinical sides. On a basic level, co-production, and its sister method, public involvement, are conversations that take place between researchers and members of the public or key stakeholders. Discussing across this table helps both researchers and the public understand each other, exchange knowledge and understanding, and build research together that can help various peoples and have a positive impact on the worlds and communities around them.”
Using footage from the event, Rosa and Will are co-producing a series of videos with young people on emotional health self-management, which will be shared with other LGBTQ+ young people across the UK. As Rosa explained, “I hope these videos will help many LGBTQ+ adolescents to learn from others about emotional health self-management, and to know that they’re not alone.”