As we celebrate the International Week of Happiness at Work, it’s a great time to talk about mental health and wellbeing, especially for young people. In this spirit, we’re excited to introduce our young community researchers and designers from Northern Devon and Newham, as they share their thoughts on how Kailo is creating a supportive environment for their work, and young people more widely.
It is worth reflecting on how early career experiences shape our future: these formative years can often set the tone for how we feel about work, develop relationships, and how resilient and confident we become in our careers. Being part of a supportive and empowering environment can significantly contribute to long-term wellbeing, within the workplace and beyond. Research suggests that some young employees place more value on individual respect than ‘trendy’ wellbeing perks.
However, evidence from the Institute for Employment Studies shows that the relationship between job satisfaction and health and wellbeing is complex, with many young people reporting dissatisfaction with aspects including pay, receiving recognition for their work, having adequate platforms for voice and representation at work, and availability of support to manage their health. Worries about job security, stemming from the current cost of living crisis and looming recession, are also impacting young people’s mental health and wellbeing, the latest Prince’s Trust Natwest Youth Index finds.
While Kailo is not solely focused on young people and employment, we recognise that mental health and wellbeing within the workplace are essential areas to focus on, as we work towards designing strategies to support a more resilient generation of young people who can thrive in many aspects of life.
Who are the community researchers?
Immy is a community researcher in North Devon. “Being part of a partnership that understands the local context and genuinely cares about the wellbeing of young people resonated with my personal values and aspirations,” she describes. She hopes to use her first-hand experiences of growing up in North Devon to help understand the unique challenges that young individuals face there. In her spare time, Immy loves to connect with the beautiful natural landscape in North Devon – hiking, swimming, and taking in the scenery – whatever the weather!
Amelia, from Newham, was drawn to Kailo by the opportunity to contribute to the community. She says that she feels a sense of hope and purpose from Kailo’s approach to bringing about change: “Kailo from the beginning gave off a very proactive and positive attitude”. She is excited about being part of a big initiative and the possibilities of creating scalable change. Amelia enjoys hands-on activities, and loves to unwind by crocheting and baking.
Ava is one of our community researchers in Northern Devon. She has a keen interest in mental health, and understanding other people’s perspectives. ”Working here has enabled me to recognise the importance of self-care, seeking help when needed, and advocating for mental health awareness and de-stigmatisation,” she describes her experience of working with Kailo. Music is a big part of Ava’s life – she plays the guitar and piano, and loves to experiment with new genres.
Tanya is part of the Newham team. She was particularly drawn to the community-centred approach in Kailo, and hopes that Kailo can create sustainable change for young people in Newham, by “building the foundations for this work to continue”. She has enjoyed learning about working with the local community, and is particularly excited about gaining further research experience!
Where Kailo and community research collide
All the elements mentioned by the young community researchers and designers are what drives Kailo. One of the ways we can better understand the complex factors that impact young people’s mental health is through people’s lived experience. This is why we’re working closely with Immy, Ava, Amelia, and Tanya to better understand the diverse lived experiences and needs within Northern Devon and Newham. Our young researchers come from diverse backgrounds and share a common commitment of understanding the root causes and complexities of young people’s mental health, and bringing about sustainable change.
As part of Kailo, we want to facilitate spaces to bring together groups of people with different experiences to design new ways to improve young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Our co-design approach aligns with the four drivers of employee happiness from the Happiness Index: safety, relationships, acknowledgement, and freedom. These approaches champion empowerment, ensuring that communities not only have a voice, but also ownership of the research.
Over the next several months, we will continue to work with co-design groups in Newham and North Devon. Local young people and community partners will be at the forefront, leading us toward effective and resonant solutions. “I’ve discovered the power of collaboration and community engagement in addressing these challenges,” Immy summarises.
As the International Week of Happiness Week draws to a close, we hope to continue the conversation about mental health and wellbeing at work.
“Ultimately, the journey of learning about mental health is not only personally fulfilling, but also contributes to creating a healthier and more inclusive society.”