How to engage young people in mental health research?

Signe Herbers Poulsen*, Nina Maindal, Gitte Kragh, Kristian Oddershede, Mathias Sejerkilde, Stine Breiner Pedersen, Manziha Haghju, Emma Sinclair, Anne Harrits, Ulrik Bak Kirk, Jacob Sherson, Carsten Obel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterResearchpeer-review


Mental health and planetary health have been shown to be interwoven and we are only just starting to understand this relationship. Climate change and the effects thereof, of which it has been suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic is one, have adverse effects on people’s mental health. Protecting and improving the mental health and well-being of young people is an important task for present and future societies, both in general and in particular when crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, strike. During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, young people’s mental health was especially challenged by restrictions compared to other age groups. However, young people are rarely involved in research on identifying solutions and coping strategies dealing with their mental health challenges. This poster presents our experiences with co-creation with young people about their mental health challenges and coping strategies during the lockdowns. We involved young people (n=150) aged 17-22 in three workshops in Denmark to collect personal reflections, co-analyse the material, and then co-create coping strategies and communication materials to help other young people cope with the situation. The participants were current or former students from The Academy of Talented Youth, an extracurricular activity for high school students. Mixed methods were used including written reflections, questionnaire, interviews, Miro-board and observation notes. Participants reported that the engagement provided them with the opportunity to reflect on their own life, share experiences, and be inspired by their peers. Additionally, they experienced feelings of being heard and felt they could contribute with a unique perspective by, for, and on youth. Furthermore, we engaged in a closer collaboration with five young people as co-researchers in planning and execution of the co-creation workshop, data collection, analysis, and communication, creating a safe space for the workshop participants to share their mental health challenges. The activities also resulted in outputs for the research project, including insight into young people’s challenges during the pandemic, co-creation of coping strategies, and input to communication products. Our study indicated several benefits as well as challenges from engaging young people in science communication and co-creation, though we believe the benefits far outweigh the challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Publication dateOct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022
EventECSA Conference 2022: Citizen Science for Planetary Health - Berlin, Germany
Duration: 5 Oct 20228 Oct 2022


ConferenceECSA Conference 2022: Citizen Science for Planetary Health
Internet address


  • Citizen science
  • Mental health
  • Co-creation
  • Young people
  • Covid-19


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  • Giv De Unge Ordet

    Obel, C. L. (PI), Kirk, U. B. (Project manager), Poulsen, S. H. (Participant), Maindal, N. (Project coordinator), Sherson, J. (Participant), Hjorth, H. A. (Participant), Kragh, G. (Participant), Harrits, A. (Participant), Greve, L. (Participant), Bjerg, T. W. (PI), Sabra, J. B. S. (Participant), Native, C. A. (Participant), Svendsen, K. (Participant) & Mortensen, A. A. (Participant)

    Novo Nordisk Foundation


    Project: Research

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