Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Adolescent mental health - Programmes - Impact on Urban Health
Mother and young son walking down a street


Adolescent mental health

We want to find ways to support young people from urban areas with mental health issues and learn how to reduce mental health inequality in communities living on low incomes

Why we focus on adolescent mental health

Young people’s mental health is a major issue for the UK, with one in eight children and young people living with a diagnosed condition.

And the risk factors associated with growing up in urban areas appear to amplify the risk of poor mental health. This includes areas that are densely populated, where poverty and affluence sit side by side.

Without intervention or support, mental health conditions can have long-term impacts on young people’s life chances. This is particularly the case for conditions considered more severe.

Children and young people with behavioural disorders are more likely to experience a number of life challenges. This includes poor mental and physical health in adulthood, being on the child protection register, being excluded from school or leaving school with no qualifications, being unemployed, being dependent on drugs and being involved in crime. 

With our programme, we want to take a targeted approach to identify the best interventions to support young people’s mental health.

Key facts about young people's mental health

4x as likely

Children and young people from families on low incomes are almost four times as likely to have a behavioural disorder

2x as likely

They are also twice as likely to have an emotional disorder than those from families on higher incomes


of children and young people in Lambeth and Southwark have a diagnosable mental health condition

How we are addressing adolescent mental health

Overview of our programme

Our programme is a ten-year programme, currently in its research phase. As a result, we are commissioning a series of projects to help us understand where we should focus our programme for the next decade.

Partnering with others

We are currently testing whether behavioural disorders, in particular, should be our priority. This is because of the significant and long-term impacts they have on life chances.

We know that the limited mental health services available to young people tend not to focus on behavioural disorders. Furthermore, an initial investigation suggests that these may be more prevalent in our boroughs than existing data indicates. 

Our research phase

Our research phase includes the following partnerships: 

  • Using healthcare data to identify sociodemographic and geographic risk factors for adolescent mental health issues in Lambeth and Southwark, as well as the ways young people use healthcare services. In collaboration with The Strategy Unit 
  • Using conversational AI to develop a data picture of young people’s mental health from their own perspectives. In partnership with 
  • Exploring machine learning using real-time data on factors that affect adolescent mental health, such as crime, to identify communities most in need of support. In collaboration with Trilateral Research
  • A review of the current evidence base for interventions, in our boroughs and nationally. In collaboration with  The Behavioural Insights Team 
  • Exploring future changes to urban living that may impact adolescent mental health. In collaboration with the School of International Futures 
  • Mapping the influences on adolescent mental health and their interrelationships from young people’s perspectives. In collaboration with YoungMinds andShift

Together we're working to understand the different ways children and young people’s mental health can be influenced by the people, places and services around them. We are looking for key insights into risk and protective factors around adolescent mental health, as well as opportunities for building local environments and support systems that prioritise and boost the mental health and wellbeing of young people.

Fiona Lacey Service Design Senior Manager, YoungMinds