Online museum of art and culture to support the mental health of young people

Wednesday 11 October 2023

The ORIGIN project (Optimising cultural expeRIences for mental health in underrepresented younG people online) is a new initiative that will bring together a diverse group of young people aged 16-24 to co-design an online arts and culture museum. The programme aims to reduce anxiety and depression among young people and provide an engaging, accessible way to improve mental health through creativity. This £2.61m research project is hosted by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, led by researchers from Oxford University and funded by the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR).

ORIGIN is supported by a collaborative network between NHS Trusts, UK universities and partner museums and charities. At NIHR CYP MedTech, we are committed to supporting research and innovations that place children and young people at the centre and ensure their voices are heard. We are delighted to support this incredible project and be part of something that supports the mental health of young people in such a creative and inspiring way.

The research project will run from 2023-2028 and nearly 1,500 young people will take part in a trial to test its effectiveness. The trial will bring together a diverse group of young people and ensure underrepresented groups are included, specifically LGBTQ+ and autistic people, ethnic minorities, young people on NHS waiting lists for mental health support and those who live in some of the most deprived areas of the UK.

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.