The Mirror Project: Reflecting Young People’s Views on Mental Health

There has been much concern about high suicide rates amongst young people in New Zealand.  But the challenge is that while young people suffer psychological distress at higher rates than other groups, they make least use of formal support services.  One of the reasons for young people’s poor use of existing services is thought to be a gap between the priorities that young people have today and the way services are designed.

Understanding the worlds of young people today

Young people inhabit a world that previous generations could hardly have imagined, with different economic and social pressures, interactions enabled by digital communication and exposure to new global threats and opportunities.  The aim of The Mirror Project is to find out more the psychological challenges young people face in New Zealand today, the impact these have on their wellbeing, how they use their own strengths and resources to deal with these and how support services can be designed to better to meet their needs.

Developing the Mirror Project

We were concerned that much of the research that informed the services for young people prioritised the views of professionals and silenced the views of young people.  

We had the idea of holding up a mirror up to professionals so that they could see themselves through the eyes of their young clients, which gave us the name ‘The Mirror Project’.  Our aim is to learn from young people about what works best for them so that this knowledge can inform the development of appropriate support services.