Arts and Mental Health Co-Research with Youth Advisors: The Role of Emotions, Creating Community, Learning and Growth

Laura helen virginia Wright, Heather Devoy, Georgia Gardner, Katey Warran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The inclusion of children and young people as co-researchers within mental health research has become increasingly recognised as valuable to improve equity and research quality. These approaches are considered important to shift knowledge and power hierarchies in research that has traditionally marginalised the voices of young people and prioritised positivist ways of knowing. Yet, very little research has explored the value of including youth advisors in research exploring the arts and mental health. This article, co-written intergenerationally, explores the role of a youth advisory (YA) in the design, data collection, and knowledge exchange of the DanceConnect research project: a study exploring if and how online dance classes may improve the social and mental wellbeing of young people (aged 16–24) living with anxiety in the UK. Drawing upon qualitative data (audio recordings of advisory meetings from the study (n = 5 meetings), a youth advisory focus group with an arts-based component (n = 1), and researcher ethnographic fieldnotes from four researchers), this study reflects on the role of a youth advisory in young researchers’ own lives. Through a reflexive analytic approach, we found that the youth advisory constructed meaningful emotional experiences, fostered spaces of learning and growth, and enabled a sense of community. Reflecting on our findings, we also set out key recommendations for researchers working in the field of arts and mental health who may wish to establish youth advisories in the future. This article acts as an important resource that can be used to inform and reflect on improving coproduction processes with youth advisors in arts and mental health research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-148
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jan 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • youth advisory
  • online dance
  • mental health
  • community
  • participatory research
  • coproduction
  • arts and health
  • co-researchers


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