|Background to the study|
How can we provide young people with appropriate support to help them navigate feelings of loneliness? Between 20%-71% of young people (aged 15-25 years) identify as lonely (Qualter et al 2013). Some might require professional support but for many practices of mutual- and self-care will be sufficient. Unfortunately, ways of thinking and talking about loneliness in academic research, media and policy tend to stigmatise and individualise loneliness, and provide inadequate accounts to inform effective loneliness reduction interventions. Left on Readdevelops on the findings of Loneliness Connects Us a two-year research project where a group of youth co-researchers researched youth loneliness using arts and creative methods. In total over 250 young people (aged 11-26) participated in the research.
Aims of the research
We begin with an overarching aim agreed by young people: Young people with experience of mental health issues co-produce new ways of thinking, talking and relating to loneliness and stigma. Working within the constraints of the COVID-19 Lockdown/ physical distancing we aim to develop focused and productive accounts of youth loneliness that help ground self-, mutual-, and service-level forms of support for young people.
Design and methods
A group of youth co-researchers will plan, deliver and amplify a research project where young people will explore loneliness, mental health and stigma through co-produced through creative and arts-based methods, in three phases:
Plan: A core group of 6 youth co-researchers (aged 16 to 25) from 42nd Street with experience of mental health issues will explore loneliness and plan a series of Loneliness HomeLabs for other young people to participate in.
Research: Young people will explore youth loneliness in safe encounters with arts and creative practices that can be staged by the young people (at home, outside or online) in line with the rules the Lockdown/ physical distancing conditions.
Amplify: The youth co-researchers will produce 6 arts outputs that translate and amplify their ideas of how loneliness, mental health and stigma could be thought, talked about and felt in different ways.
· An accessible final project report aimed to inform practitioners and policy makers(approx. 4,000 words)
· 6 co-produced arts projects communicating new ways of understanding loneliness
· Curated collection posted online or an exhibition at the Horsfall Gallery, MMU Poetry Library or City of Literature festival sites – if safe.
· Two academic articles focusing on the Carousel of Moving Methods (IJQM) and Loneliness Beyond Contagion (Journal of Youth Studies)
· An archive of resources detailing the links we observed between loneliness, method, modality/practice, genre or context and emerging ideas.
Patient and public involvement
The involvement of the public and people with experience of loneliness, mental health issues, and stigma is central to the research. The research grows out of Loneliness Connects Us a youth co-research project that engaged over 250 young people (aged 11 – 25 years). The lead researcher and youth co-researchers all have experience of mental health issues. An initial project meeting was held with 6 young people at 42nd Street to discuss and agree the parameters for the proposed project. The youth co-researchers will be central to planning, delivering and exploring the findings of the research. The project will be outward facing and seek to include the perspectives of other young people throughout the research.