North Ayrshire Mental Health Commission

North Ayrshire Mental Health Commission

The North Ayrshire Mental Health Commission (NAMHC) is our first major project in Scotland. It empowers young people to have a real say over their mental health and to find solutions which will be funded to bring about meaningful change.

The first of its kind in Scotland, NAMHC is bringing young people together with local decision-makers to create the change young people want to see.

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

North Ayrshire Mental Health Commission 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 begin to highlight 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 and to seek wider engagement on whether these priorities change by area or other demographics. 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.


Research indicates that 10% of children and young people (aged five to 16) have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem, around three in every class, and 20% of adolescents may experience such a problem in any given year. Mental health problems disproportionately impact those from lower-income households and areas of deprivation.

It should be noted that these figures are well out of date and the prevalence of mental health problems is widely recognised as having increased significantly over recent years. This situation has been exacerbated by the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental health of many children and young people.

We are in a mental health crisis, with an increasing number of those experiencing mental health problems recognised as one of the greatest public health challenges of our time.

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."