The study examined how adolescents’ experiences of violence and neighbourhood disorder (e.g., vandalism and muggings) affects their mental health as they move into adulthood. We used data that has been collected from 2,232 British twins who were followed from birth until they were 18 years old. During this time lots of information was collected from the participants, including their experience of physical violence and the level of neighbourhood disorder where they lived during adolescence, and their symptoms of mental disorders when they were aged 18. We were also interested to find out if having supportive relationships, higher intelligence, or coming from a wealthier family might help protect adolescents from developing mental health problems following experiences of violence and neighbourhood disorder.
Being peer researchers not only allowed us to share our perspectives in order to make this research more valuable, but it has benefited us as individuals too. Here we reflect on why we got involved, what we learned, and why we think lived experience matters for mental health research.
We found out about the project through an online advert on the McPin Foundation website, in which researchers at King’s College London were looking for people aged 18-25 with lived experience of violence and mental health. There were many reasons we wanted to get involved: