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As part of Mental Health Innovations’ remit to improve the mental health of the UK population, we help build knowledge and skills across the sector.

We recently hosted an Emerging Minds cross-sector work experience placement for an early career researcher to work with our data team on a suicide de-escalation project. Emerging Minds is a research network that aims to reduce the prevalence of mental health problems experienced by children and young people. It is committed to supporting early career researchers with funded cross-sector placements.

Researcher Carolina Guzman Holst, a PhD student at the University of Oxford, undertook a placement with us where she helped us determine the factors contributing to suicide de-escalation in young, imminent risk texters.

Carolina carried out an investigation using anonymised texts from young people who had initiated a text conversation with the Shout service and expressed a wish, plan, means and timeframe to attempt suicide to a volunteer.

The Shout service is powered by volunteers who are supported by clinical supervisors when taking conversations. As part of her investigation, Carolina conducted interviews with both volunteers and clinical supervisors to understand their experiences of suicide prevention and intervention on the Shout platform. This helped us provide insight into how to best conduct conversations with people with suicidal ideation. The findings from this work are now being used to enhance training and support for volunteers and to help them de-escalate texters with suicidal intent.

The Emerging Minds scheme is crucial to cross-sector work, serving as a source of capacity-building in the digital mental health sector, and proved to be mutually beneficial for all those involved.

"It was a remarkable experience to work at Mental Health Innovations. I witnessed first-hand the effort and dedication that their volunteers, supervisors, and dedicated teams devoted to Shout, and their commitment to help support thousands of individuals across the nation struggling with mental health issues.

Mental Health Innovations is not only actively engaging in conversations with the government, agencies, and academics about important issues such as suicide, but they are also informing research and policy, promoting public engagement, fundraising new mental health initiatives, and finding new ways to improve training and awareness for their volunteers to provide potentially life-saving support.

I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to take part in an Emerging Minds x Mental Health Innovations placement and witness first-hand the impact of Shout. As a doctoral student in psychology, it was an invaluable opportunity to learn from this collaboration about how to integrate clinical practice, evidence-based research, and digital innovation to understand unique aspects of young people’s mental health."


Carolina Guzman Holst

PhD student, University of Oxford

To find out more, please contact our Director of Data Insights, Mark Ungless or our Director of Income, Caroline Westley.