Mental Health Champions – Dublin North, North East Recovery College Youth Programme

Health and Well-being

Mental Health Champions – Dublin North, North East Recovery College Youth Programme

Project synopsis

This research project aimed to co-develop, co-implement and co-evaluate an intervention to build mental health resilience in young people through an education programme for young people. There were three stages in this project. An evidence based pilot intervention of mental health education for young people was co-developed, co-implemented and co-evaluated with young people attending mental health services using a mixed methodology. Next, 34 youth workers from eight European countries were trained through a ‘train the trainer’ programme. Stage three, currently underway, involves the co-evaluation of the impact of the programme using a mixed methodology.

The Irish Nursing and Midwifery Practice Development Unit, National Youth Council of Ireland, Connections Foróige, St. Pauls Youth Project Artane, Trinity Youth Project Donaghmede, St. Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin North, North East Recovery College (DNNERC).

Public and patient involvement (PPI) was essential to this project and employed throughout. The project emerged from an initial collaboration with experts by experience and researchers in DNNERC. The research team included a number of experts by experience alongside members of research staff from DCU.

The intervention was co-developed by the research team, research partners and experts by experience, supplemented by focus groups with young people engaged with mental health services. An expert by experience coordinated implementation of the intervention and conducted the data collection (focus groups and questionnaires) for the intervention development and evaluation. All data analysis was conducted in partnership with experts by experience and the research team.

The experts by experience had worked in the area of mental health as well as having experience of youth mental health services themselves. They were recruited to the research team through their engagement with DNNERC. The experts by experience were supported by the wider research team e.g. provided with training on group facilitation, and had previous experience of field research.

The outputs are as follows:

  • Development of the initial pilot programme, with agreed learning outcomes, as developed by young people attending St Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin.
  • Development of a working group which included the aforementioned partner organisations to oversee the implementation of a pilot programme aimed at young people engaging with three youth programmes across the north Dublin areas.
  • An application for Erasmus+ funding to run a train the trainer programme.
  • Administration and organisation of a week-long train the trainer programme through which 34 youth workers from across 8 European countries engaged.

The outcomes are as follows:

  • Secured commitments from 10 youth Projects across Europe to deliver this programme locally.
  • Currently working with partners to develop an evaluation framework that will capture the impact of this subsequent programme roll out.

Societal Engagement

This programme is concerned with two important emerging themes; the effective role of youth participation in addressing and enhancing protective factors in health promotion programs (Burns & Birrell, 2014) and the findings that adolescents are ‘gatekeepers’ in the pathway towards service access for other adolescents (Byrne, Swords and Nixon, 2015).

Health & Wellbeing

Further, mental health education that supports a young person’s intrapersonal understanding of self, provides knowledge to help mediate any potential difficulties that may arise within their peer group.
The programme is in line with a number of recommendations made by the National Youth Mental Health Task Force Report 2017 (Department of Health, 2017).

Higher Education Institute:

Dublin City University, School of Nursing and Human Sciences

Funding Source:

Erasmus+ and the Irish Nursing & Midwifery Practice Development Unit, Dublin North, North East.

Academic Contacts:

Core Research Team Members:
PI: Dr Liam Maccabean:
Mary Farrelly :
Martha Griffin:
John Kelly:
Aaron Galbraith: