What is Kailo about?

Tim Hobbs

Kailo is about working in local places to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people. The word Kailo itself, means ‘whole’ – and that’s exactly what we want young people to feel; whole, connected and thriving. What makes Kailo different is its focus on getting the foundations in place for young people to do just that. 

That starts with understanding what really matters to young people in local communities, what affects their mental health and wellbeing – and recognising that this varies by place and for different groups of young people. It’s then about building on this shared understanding and collaboratively designing with young people, and other community members, ways to strengthen the foundations for good mental health in their community. 

What Kailo is not…

Kailo is not about designing or delivering better mental health services. Of course, this is desperately needed, and others are working hard at this. But for us, this is too late. We want to get in earlier and help build strong foundations for mental health so young people are less likely to need support further down the line. 

All this said, you’re probably still wondering – what actually is Kailo?! And how will it happen in reality? Given that understanding and addressing mental health is complex, it follows that Kailo is too. So bear with us… 

How Kailo works

Kailo is a research and design initiative. We are trialling new ways of taking a participatory, design-oriented approach to exploring local issues related to young people’s mental health. Building on this, we will then co-design ways to strengthen the foundations for young people’s mental health. We are doing this in a way that is informed by good data, evidence and understanding of the wider system.

We are working initially in two intentionally distinct areas – Newham and North Devon. We want to see if Kailo can work in different contexts. 

In each area, the aims are to:

Cutting across all of this is an intentional focus on surfacing and actively addressing inequalities in mental health and wellbeing. 

You can read a bit more about the process of discovery and design here – that will give you a more concrete flavour of what the work looks like in practice. 

Our partners at UCL and Exeter University are also helping us to learn about the approach through an embedded developmental evaluation. This way we hope to continually learn and adapt in Newham and North Devon, as well as prepare for wider application in new areas in the coming years. 

So that is a brief introduction to Kailo. Please do explore other areas of Kailo.community to find out more, and sign-up for updates about how the work is progressing in Newham and North Devon – and to hear directly from local community partners and young people in due course!