B4598 - Disentangling the associations between community engagement inequalities and youth anxiety and depression - 29/04/2024

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Jessica Bone | University College London (UK)
Prof Daisy Fancourt, Dr Feifei Bu, Dr Gemma Lewis, Prof Glyn Lewis, Prof Praveetha Patalay
Title of project: 
Disentangling the associations between community engagement, inequalities, and youth anxiety and depression
Proposal summary: 

This project will investigate whether community engagement is a modifiable health behaviour that can prevent and reduce youth anxiety and depression. Although community engagement (e.g., arts, culture, heritage, volunteering, community groups) is associated with reduced anxiety and depression, previous research is limited by not accounting for inequalities in mental health and community engagement, reliance on small studies with short follow-ups, and little evidence specifically in young people.

We will establish whether community engagement can reduce youth anxiety and depression, assess its equality of distribution internationally, and test whether individual- and society-level community engagement interventions can reduce youth anxiety and depression. We will use population-level longitudinal data from the UK, US, Australia, Japan, Egypt, and Norway. We will triangulate evidence from novel statistical methods for causal inference. These approaches have not yet been used in this field but are vital to examine associations independent of inequalities in mental health and community engagement. Cutting-edge cross-country evidence will demonstrate whether community engagement could be a public health intervention that reduces anxiety and depression. This project will facilitate further innovative research, inform population health policy and funding, and support development of large-scale interventions to reduce youth anxiety and depression globally.

Impact of research: 
I believe that my research will have a number of impacts. I will determine whether community engagement can support young people's mental health, beyond existing inequalities. It is timely, providing much-needed insights using robust methods with population-level data. As the first to apply these methods in this field, I hope to significantly advance existing approaches and facilitate further pioneering research. I have identified five target audiences (researchers, young people, policymakers, community organisations, parents/teachers/schools) and coproduced an engagement plan to be co-created with a youth advisory group throughout. For researchers, I will publish 10 high-impact peer-reviewed articles (WP1=six, WP2=four) and two conference presentations, aiming to share findings and promote further robust research. I will disseminate findings in summary reports, blogs, infographics, media content, and podcasts for young people, community organisations, schools, teachers, and parents to increase awareness of community engagement. For policymakers, I will produce reports and present to the WHO, Department for Digital Culture Media & Sport, and All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts Health and Wellbeing (all of whom I already have contact with). I will consult community organisations on research and engagement directions and run webinars on applying research with the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance and Social Prescribing Youth Network.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 19 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 29 April, 2024
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc., Community assets Leisure activities Arts engagement Cultural engagement Volunteering