Enabling the use of data to transform support for young people with anxiety and depression​

We’re partnering with the Wellcome Trust to deliver a data prize in mental health. 

The Wellcome Data Prize in Mental Health supports teams based in the UK and South Africa to explore existing datasets and find new insights and build digital tools that enable future research. 

Social Finance supported the design and running of the data prize, bringing our experience of engaging and including people with lived experience in different stages of project design and implementation.

Why are we doing this?

Millions of young people worldwide are affected by poor mental health. Anxiety and depression often starts early in a person’s life and can have debilitating consequences, which makes early intervention key.

The Wellcome Data Prize in Mental Health aims to generate tangible and scalable outputs that support the mental health research community. The overarching question for the data prize is: What are the active ingredients’ that make a difference in preventing, treating, and managing anxiety and depression in young people? What works, for whom, in what contexts, and why?

Applications to the prize closed in April 2022.

What we are doing

Our work on the prize has seen us return to the management and administrative work that we’ve done in the past when managing outcome funds, and working with a unique partner like the Wellcome Trust has brought its own new experience. The project has required Wellcome’s team to work in an Agile fashion and has been a fantastic opportunity to bring in knowledge from across our Data + Digital Labs and International teams.

During the design phase we worked alongside our Youth Advisory Network (YAN) to develop the plan, goals, and parameters of the prize. We also included two people from the YAN in our selection panel to ensure people with lived experience were embedded every step of the way. 

We continue to work alongside the Wellcome Trust to support participating teams in engaging people with lived experience.

Social Finance developed effective communication and took a considered approach. From the outset, they ensured lived experience involvement throughout the project. They brought a reflective and respectful approach in their engagement with us and other stakeholders, and had a very focused way of working.

The Wellcome Trust 

Our work on the data prize has required clear and balanced communication with a variety of stakeholders including Wellcome’s team, the YAN, prospective participants and confirmed teams, sector experts, and the advisory board, amongst others. 

We have also helped to build a community of practice across the participating teams. To do so, we have leveraged our communication and event design and planning skills to put together effective spaces for teams to connect with each other. In addition to the support sessions around lived experience engagement mentioned above, we have run three networking events for participants, taking advantage of the facilitation skills our teams have to provide varied engaging opportunities for discussion, reflection, and socialisation.

Impact and insights

The ten teams selected to progress into the Discovery phase were announced in June 2022. Below are some details about where they’re from and what they are working on.

University of Birmingham

Prevention of persistent high levels of depression across adolescence and young adulthood: the role of active ingredients

Ulster University

Harmony: A global platform for contextual harmonisation, translation and cooperation in mental health research

University of Edinburgh

Developing a counterfactual analysis digital tool to illuminate active ingredients in mental health.

National Centre for Social Research

Unravelling patterns in social connection for the prevention of depression and anxiety in adolescents and young adults

University of York

Developing a rapid AI-based policy probing and observational research tool

Cardiff University

Understanding the role of secondary school environments and policies as drivers of school connectedness to prevent anxiety and depression

University of Edinburgh

Mental health trajectories following pharmacological and psychological treatment

Black Thrive Global

The impact of stop and search on young Black people’s mental health

University of Surrey

Mental health researchers in discovering active ingredients in longitudinal datasets using artificial intelligence (MHR-DAIDAI)

South African Medical Research Council

Development and validation of a digital tool for identifying young people at risk for depression in South Africa

University of York

Anxiety and depression in young people: who do they affect, who seeks treatment, and who responds to treatment?

Related work

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