MH:2K enables young people to explore mental health issues and influence decision-making in their local areas. It empowers 14-25 year olds to:

Identify the mental health issues that they see as most important;

Engage their peers in discussing and exploring these topics;

Work with key local decision-makers to make recommendations for change.

MH:2K was developed through a partnership of Leaders Unlocked and Involve. Following a successful pilot in Oldham, we received support from the Wellcome Trust to expand MH:2K to four new areas: Birmingham; Central Lancashire; Nottingham and Nottinghamshire; North Tyneside. Subsequently in 2019, MH:2K was also adopted in Derby and Derbyshire.

MH2K is in its third year delivering youth-led research in Derby and Derbyshire. They’ve provided valuable insights and influenced change across schools, the NHS and local authorities. This has really helped us to ensure that services are set up to deliver for children and young people.

Nicola Smith, Derby & Derbyshire ICB

How it works

Through the project, the young leaders have the opportunity to:

In each local area, MH:2K involves the following stages of work:

Recruitment: Working closely with local partners, we recruit a team of proactive young people as ‘Citizen Researchers’. This group brings together a diverse cross-section of the youth population, including those with direct experience of mental health issues and individuals from at risk groups.

Design Days: We support the Citizen Researchers to explore key national and local information about youth mental health. The Researchers determine which mental health issues are most significant for their area. They receive training in research, event design, facilitation and public speaking.

Roadshow: The Citizen Researchers co-design and deliver workshops to engage a much wider number of young people on the priority topics. The workshops stimulate informal learning and gather young people’s views on what’s working, what’s not, and potential solutions.

Results Day: The Citizen Researchers co-analyse the Roadshow data and extract key findings. The Researchers work with local decision-makers to develop strong, practical recommendations for change.

Big Showcase: The Citizen Researchers present their findings and recommendations to key local stakeholders at a media-friendly event. The Showcase includes facilitated conversations about next steps. The project results are fed back to all the young people who took part.

An Expert Panel of key local decision-makers and stakeholders informs the project’s work throughout its lifetime.

Get involved

We are currently seeking new local areas to take part in MH:2K. To find out more about this opportunity, please get in touch at info@leaders-unlocked.org.


Mental health conditions affect about 1 in 10 young people, with vulnerable groups particularly a risk. Young people have a unique and vital perspective on their mental health – the challenges they face, information they need, and what is and isn’t working about existing services.

By harnessing young people’s experiences and views, decision-makers can gain deeper understanding of mental health issues in their area and new insights about effective solutions. They can better serve the diversity of their youth populations.

Get involved

If you’re interested in getting involved with the work we do at Leaders Unlocked, please do send us a message via our contact us page. We are always keen to hear from young people who may want to take part in our projects, as well as professionals who may want to collaborate.

More than 65% of our
staff came from Leaders Unlocked projects

"We’ve been involved in peer engagement work with Leaders Unlocked. The young leaders we worked with engaged with over 100 service users in custody. We have been so impressed with the work. We are engaging with the young adults as colleagues, and the fact that they are former service users is almost secondary. The most important thing is the high quality work they are delivering."