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Voices of Tomorrow: A CELEBRATE Project Event

Lea Schmid

06 February 2024

Lea Schmid, the dissemination coordinator of the research project, CELEBRATE, writes about the launch of the project. CELEBRATE stands for Co-producing a framework of guiding principles for engaging representative and diverse cohorts of young people in biological research in mental health. CELEBRATE is a UKRI-funded research programme that is dedicated to improving how researchers study biology and mental health in young people by co-developing relevant guidelines with them. For further information visit: About Us | CELEBRATE (

Adolescence is a crucial time for development of the brain and body. It is also when mental health problems, like anxiety and depression, can start. We need to find out more about how the experiences adolescents face in the world, can make physical changes to the biology of their mind, brain, and body. To do that, we need we need to conduct more research which gathers information on their biology and mental health so we can improve our understanding. At CELEBRATE, we conduct this research by co-leading the project with our Youth Expert Working Group (YEWG ), working alongside us at every stage. Our lead investigator is Paola Dazzan, Professor of Neurobiology of Psychosis, at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London and theme Co-Lead for Psychosis and Mood Disorders at the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre.

Unfortunately, many young people do not participate or drop out of research studies. , This is especially the case with young people from disadvantaged or minority groups, which means that results don’t represent all young people in the UK. At CELEBRATE, we are currently trying to bridge this gap by working with a group of six 11-to-18-year old’s, to create a ‘Framework of Guiding Voices of Tomorrow: A CELEBRATE Project Event Principles’, that will guide future researchers to better, and more inclusively, study biology and mental health in young people. We are also asking parents and teachers for their perspectives, as they often make decisions for young people under 18 years of age.


Along the way, this will hopefully also help us gain a better understanding in how to involve children and adolescents in future studies, by answering commonly asked questions such as: how do young people prefer to be approached about research? What would make them interested in staying involved? What roles they would like to play in the research team? And what benefits they would like to see from taking part?

Our new project puts young people at the centre of the research design and demonstrates a new way of conducting research.

In January we held a public launch event ‘The Voices of Tomorrow’ at King’s College London’s Great Hall at the Strand Campus, to bring together young people in our project with our researchers. 

One of our YEWG members, Kirsten, moderated and co-facilitated a panel discussion. She asked our panel members questions including “How can young people benefit from being involved in mental health research?”, or “What is the role of social media in helping or hindering mental health online? What role can influencers play in addressing these issues?”. Fera, another YEWG member, spoke about her personal experience surrounding inclusivity in research and represented today’s youth. Including our YEWG members on the panel was a great opportunity for the audience to actively engage and hear all about their experiences, as well as their opinions on the CELEBRATE project. Niyah Campbell, our youth involvement co-lead from the University of Birmingham was on our panel, which also included Dr Gillian Brooks who co-moderated as our representative of King’s Business School.

A crucial part of CELEBRATE is the dissemination of our research, which is where my role comes in. We want to maximise the use and adoption of the Framework at the end of the project so that it has the highest possible benefit for scientists, young people, education leaders, funders, and other relevant organisations. This is why we have decided to partner with three influencers, our ‘Champions,’ to engage with our content and helps us reach new communities.

  • Conor Warren, our most recent addition to the team, is the 18-year-old Founder and CEO of Spark UK—an award-winning youth-led mental health organization committed to making 'sparking conversations around mental health'.
  • DrAlly Jaffee is a multi-award-winning NHS Junior Doctor, passionate about mental health and planning to specialize in psychiatry, and
  • António Ferreira is a multi-award-winning mental health activist and anti-racism campaigner, working with the government and schools to break down the perpetual stigma surrounding mental health in society.

Our three Champions continuously play a key role in helping us establish the identity and scope of the CELEBRATE Project.


Our ‘The Voices of Tomorrow’ event marked a significant milestone for the CELEBRATE Project and shed a light on the positive impact that involving young people in mental health research can have, not only for academics, but also for parents, teachers, schools, and the next generation of researchers. We hope that our project not only bridges a gap in participation levels but also sets a precedent for future studies to include the perspectives and experiences of young individuals at the forefront of their research, for a more inclusive and impactful approach to co-production.

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