Improving the mental health of young people by creating an ‘online museum’

Wednesday 05 April 2023

NIHR CYP MedTech are excited to support a fantastic new initiative led by researchers from Oxford University that aims to support the mental health of young people by working with them to create an ‘online museum’ for arts and culture. This National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)-funded £2.61m project, also known as ORIGIN (Optimising cultural expeRIences for mental health in underrepresented young people online), came about through collaborations between several NHS Trusts, universities, charities and museums.

Hosted by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, the project will run until 2028 and will work together with young people aged 16-24 to develop the ‘online museum’. By adopting a co-design strategy, the voices and ideas of the young people will be central in the development of this museum, ensuring that the end product will support their mental health in a way that works for them.

At later stages of development, the team will evaluate this project with a trial of over 1000 young people. To ensure the online museum meets the needs of young people today, the trial will recruit a diverse group of people to share their views and provide input. The trial will include groups of young people that are typically underrepresented in health and research e.g. young people from the most deprived areas in the UK, the LGBTQ+ community, neurodivergent young people, ethnic minorities and young people on waiting lists for mental health support in the NHS.

Dr Rebecca Syed Sheriff, NHS consultant psychiatrist and senior clinical researcher at Oxford University, led the preliminary work that laid the foundations for the ORIGIN project, which she is co-leading with Professor Kam Bhui.

Rebecca says: “Most mental health problems start before 25, yet young people are the least likely to receive mental health care, with some groups such as ethnic minorities even less likely. Much of the support currently offered by health services, such as medication and talking therapies are inaccessible and unacceptable to many of the young people who need it most.

“Online support can be more accessible and this exciting project gives us the chance to work with diverse young people on their own terms to co-design an intervention that young people are engaged by and believe in.

“This programme could have significant implications for how arts and culture are used to improve the mental health of young people in the future in a way that is engaging and accessible across diverse groups.” 

To find out more out this incredible initiative, please visit the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust website using the link below.