New Kailo Paper: Community-based approaches

The Kailo Consortium

We are excited to share our paper on engaging young people and community members in Northern Devon to identify and prioritise areas for co-design exploration.


“A community-based approach to identifying and prioritising young people’s mental health needs in their local communities”. Read full paper here.


Congratulations to all our Kailo colleagues involved in producing this!

Community-Based Approaches


The authors acknowledge all of the young people and community professionals in Northern Devon who were involved in the Kailo research and design programme, from May 2022 to April 2023, which made this paper possible. We also acknowledge those who will be involved in the future versions of the Kailo programme. Further, we want to thank Shift, an organisation committed to tackling social problems through the power of design thinking, which has been instrumental in the development of the first stages of the project.

The Abstract


Identifying locally relevant and agreed-upon priorities for improving young people’s mental health, aligned with social and environmental factors, is essential for benefiting target communities. This paper describes a participatory approach to engage young people and professionals in identifying such priorities, whilst considering the social determinants related to them.


We utilised a community-based participatory approach to support young people and professionals in identifying, reviewing, refining, and prioritising, locally relevant opportunity areas that are crucial for understanding and addressing social determinants of young people’s mental health. We adopted a flexible five-stage process, which enabled greater reflection and adaptation in response to young people’s and professionals’ feedback and reflections.


Over seven months, we engaged with young people and professionals in Northern Devon, (a rural area in southwest England), involving over 290 individuals to identify locally relevant priorities for supporting young people’s mental health. Three priorities were identified for subsequent exploration using co-design approaches: (1) identity and belonging; (2) mental health awareness and literacy; and (3) diverse opportunities (for education, employment and leisure). The engagements suggested that designing initiatives and strategies in these areas could contribute to improvements in young people’s mental health.


Young people in Northern Devon prioritised three themes for the next phase of the Kailo Programme—mental health literacy, access to diverse careers and employment opportunities, and identity and belonging within their communities. Rural communities face unique barriers associated with these issues, related to less diverse populations, lack of access to reliable and affordable transport and local industries, and seasonal working. The perceived neglect by authorities towards rural young people has resulted in a lack of activities and opportunities catering to their specific needs, compared to urban areas. Although the government has recognised the need to address these disparities, community members suggest that there is still more work to be done.

Santana de Lima, E., Preece, C., Potter, K. et al. A community-based approach to identifying and prioritising young people’s mental health needs in their local communities. Res Involv Engagem 9, 104 (2023).