Continuing their conversation, Eve, Sophie, Peter, Caitlin and Clara (from the NeurOX Young People’s Advisory Group) chat about their favourite projects and how they feel they have made a difference through the work we’ve done together.
EVE: Welcome to the YPAG podcast.
EVE: Today, a few of us are going to be talking about our experiences and projects we’ve been working on. So my name’s EVE, my pronouns are she/her and I joined YPAG this year, so I’m one of the newest members.
SOPHIE: Hello, my name is Sophie. My pronouns are she/her. I’m nineteen and I’ve been in YPAG for three or four years now, so quite a long time.
CLARA: Well, my name is Clara. I use she/ her pronouns. I’m sixteen and I’ve been in YPAG for around three years.
CAITLIN: Hi, I’m Caitlin, use she/her pronouns, and I think I’ve been in YPAG for about three or four years now.
PETER: Hi, I’m Peter. I’m eighteen. I think I have also been in YPAG about three years. He / him pronouns.
EVE: So what has been your favorite projects you’ve done working for YPAG?
CLARA: My favorite project has definitely been… we did a project working for Childline. Looking at a feature on their website called message boards, which is essentially a feature that relies on peer support. One person posts something and then a peer can respond to that. They might have just at a problem that they’re having or something related to mental health. Um, and we kind of analyze those messages and we looked at barriers and facilitators to them. Accessing mental health support, Um, and we gave that information back to childline, um so that they could alter their website and make it more or accessible to more young people. And I think that was definitely my favorite project. I think is the longest one I worked on and we got to work on it from start to finish, basically, which meant that we saw the ideas turned into a reality, which was really kind of fun to have that sense of achiEVEment that we’ve kind of taken something that was just a theory and then we made it happen.
CAITLIN: Um. I think what with the childline project, what was so special was that, you know, they ended up including it in like their anniversary. Was it? Like they released something for that and Vanessa was on BBC news and you’re just like, hang on, how does this go from us sitting on a zoom call just brainstorming ideas on what to do into, you know, something that’s really making a change? I really enjoyed doing a project about SSRIs. I’m on an SSRI so I think learning so much about that was just amazing. And then Peter and I we ended up like recording our voices for an animation, so we got to work with, you know, these animating people and being able to see something that was created, being able to see something that was created so clearly, it was just amazing. And we worked with the McPin Foundation, so meeting other young people who are doing similar things was just so interesting.
SOPHIE: I think that’s the cool thing.
Like you start all these projects, to start like a just as a small word document or something, or even like recently we’ve been designing the website and instagram and like that. It was like a simple word document with a couple of ideas, and then it’s so cool to like now, like you can google YPAG and all our ideas kind of come up, and we had such a big role in that. I feel like Vanessa would send us stuff and we kind of do it all and then send it back to her. So it’s really cool to just to be able to show people, like this is what I’ve been working on like the last two months. Here’s the final website. I think all the different research we’ve done as well, like they’re all so different, like if you don’t like one, that’s totally okay, and if you just signed up to the next one. You hear about such different things at each Zoom call, each meeting. So I think that’s cool.
PETER: My favorite project was called the Peer Support Project and we were it was during the pandemic and we were responding to, like we’re responding to a demand in the UK for well, like a concern expressed by young people that they didn’t know how to support their friends and they, like themselves, were slightly struggling with mental health. And so we provided mental health support training to a group of young people and surveyed them, or had them do surveys before and after the training to measure the effects of the training, and we had a control group and that was really interesting because, like I said earlier, like that’s scientific method applied to I think you’d call this social science. But scientific method applied to like something other than Physics, Chemistry and Biology, like applied to use mental health. I think it’s pretty cool and it was also cool because we got to work with people in lots of different countries. I can’t remember… all the different ones, but there are some people in the US. There was at least one person in Africa who was joining the meetings and like we’re working together. It was just really cool.
CAITLIN: I think with that Covid project, it was really cool to be able to see, you know, in the news there was reports about this mental health, I mean people’s mental health declining, and then you could go okay, well, I’m you know, I’m helping that. You know I’m actually my work that I’m doing is helping people with this because, you know, I’m forwarding this research and this peer support program and I just think seeing how modern and up to date the research we were doing was, it was just really cool. Basically.
SOPHIE: Yeah, I remember when, I think a man from Oxford Council came to speak about mental health and asked our opinions what was always good in schools and what was that needed to be improved. I’m being like, oh, this will actually make a difference if you kind of listens to this and takes it back, because he’s obviously like quite high up or could change things. I found that really cool and kind of like I was like, Oh, we could make a difference here.
EVE: Why should people join? Why YPAG and what would your advice be to then joining?
SOPHIE: I would kind of say to people, like, even if you are shy, you don’t really like speaking in front of groups, like still, just give it a go, sign up and like, you will just find your confidence a bit more and it is okay to be shy at the start, like, definitely don’t let that put you off at all.
CLARA: Yeah, I’d say join YPAG because you get to do fun things, you do have a good time and you get to work with really interesting projects. Um, you get to work with researchers, you learn your skills, you do work that kind of has an impact. So my advice would be join us and come with an open mind and try and just give your most honest opinions and thoughts, because they will be listened to and they can make a difference.
CAITLIN: I think I’d say to people just, you know, just do it. YPAG can be as much or as little as you want, Um, and that you know you can do things that you wouldn’t initially think that you will be able to. Um, you will learn how to do them and you know the other young people in this group. If you have an opinion which you know, you think you might not be popular or no one else is gonna think the same. Odds are other people are thinking the same thing, and I think a good thing about this group is you know they will back you up and young people, we will help each other to get these opinions across, because everyone here really does care about it.
So you’re not going to be alone in saying that you don’t like something, because the other young people in your breakout will help you say that in a way that you feel comfortable.
PETER: I’d say join because there’s not really any other group that I’m aware of that you can get the same experience from. So the experience is valuable in itself and it will stand out on any applications you might want to make to things. And I’d also say definitely don’t count yourself out for any reason. I feel like a lot of people might say, Oh, it’s lots of university, I’m not academic enough for this, which is just completely not the case, that there’s absolutely no like minimum academic threshold and actually the whole point of the group is to have a representative group of like the young person population. So if it was only people that were really interested in academics, then it’d be pretty much pointless. It’s really flexible on timings, especially with zoom meetings. You don’t have to do EVEry single meeting, so don’t worry if like, you’ve got a part time job or anything like that either. And yeah, there’s loads of value to be had.
SOPHIE: I would just say it’s like a really fun, non judgmental environment, like, whatever you say, no one’s going to be judging you. Well, I’ve definitely like thought of other opinions now, like gained new ideas by listening to other people’s opinions which are totally different to mine, and EVEryone is just really friendly and welcoming.
CAITLIN: Yeah, it’s just fun. It’s just really fun to do ultimately, and I think that’s why people should join.
EVE: Thank you all of you for joining me today and I hope anyone listening has a really good week.