Kailo project to address causes of mental ill health

The Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector is a key partner in our Integrated Care System. Each month, this feature highlights work by a VCSE organisation operating in partnership with local health and care services to help local people.

A research and design charity in Devon is among a group of local partners who will be developing a project to improve adolescent mental health in disadvantaged communities.

The project has been awarded £5.3 million and during the initial phase of the five-year initiative, it is being trialled in two distinct communities experiencing differing forms of disadvantage: North Devon and Newham in East London. It is called Kailo, which means connected or whole. 

The concept of connectivity is at the heart of the project, which will bring local communities and system leaders together.  Their mission is to design community infrastructures, services and support that addresses the health inequalities that can increase a young person’s chance of developing poor mental health.

Evidence shows that young people are struggling with their mental health more than ever before, further exacerbated by the pandemic and uncertainties about their future.

Professor Tim Hobbs, Chief Executive from Dartington Service Design Lab, said: “Mental health promotion needs to be considered in a contextualised way if we are to make a positive difference. The current system for addressing mental ill health has developed to be reactive, under the strain of limited resources. This means that a response is often triggered only when a problem becomes severe.

“This new, connected approach will support practitioners and community leaders to work with young people and families to co-design evidence-informed and locally tailored strategies designed to address the underlying causes of mental ill health in their area.”

The research and design team is led by Professor Peter Fonagy OBE, of UCL Psychology and Language Sciences.

Work in North Devon will begin in the January 2022 and the initial phase will see partnerships being developed across the area, including through the Integrated Care System, One Northern Devon, associated local organisations and young people.

In the Spring of 2022 work will begin to research, explore and co-design ambition strategies and a portfolio or activities go promote adolescent mental health. This is detailed phase aims to ensure that approaches are carefully designed using in-depth local insight, engagement with existing evidence and ensuring that young people and communities are at the centre.

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