Psychoanalysis Unit



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The mental health and wellbeing of young people is deteriorating - exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic - and there are widening equalities in outcomes. Much policy, research and practice tends to focus on the treatment of poor mental health, rather than on addressing the underlying drivers of poor mental health.


Kailo is a five-year research and design initiative, which started in late 2021 and which is funded by UKPRP. The aim is to better understand and address the social and community influences on young people’s mental health- such as poverty, social isolation, discrimination, safety and opportunities for young people. It involves working understanding what social and community influences matter the most in relation to young people’s mental health and wellbeing in a local context. Kailo brings together evidence and participatory approaches - including young people and local leaders - to design and test ways to address these social influences and promote adolescent mental health and wellbeing.

Kailo is initially working in the London Borough of Newham, which is a diverse and densely populated urban area in East London; and Northern Devon, which is a large rural area in the South West of England.


This programme has many different components, which include:

  • A discovery phase of working with local partners in each area to narrow the focus of planned research and design activities. 
  • A deeper discovery phase which includes forming local co-design teams around prioritised areas of research. The teams will include young people, community partners, local authority, health or education partners. The Kailo research team will facilitate a process whereby the teams are trained and supported in applying systems thinking and design methods to better understand specific issues, and bring together their local knowledge with existing research evidence to design policy or practice responses. Emerging designs will be shared and validated with local partners and commissioners as part of wider system reform efforts. 
  • Taking the designs mentioned above from the deeper discovery phase to new sites across the country.
  • A developmental realist-informed evaluation of the initial phases of the Kailo framework in two pilot sites.
  • This evaluation will also generate recommendations for the refinement of the Kailo framework which will facilitate the design, implementation, and testing of an optimised version in additional sites.
  • A collaboration with #BeeWell to collects data on mental health and wellbeing from adolescents in years 8-10 within Northern Devon over a period of three years. 
  • A contributory impact evaluation and a wide range of dissemination activities.

Professor Peter Fonagy
Kailo research director and Head of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences

Professor Tim Hobbs
Kailo research co-director and Chief Executive

  • Dartington Service Design Lab
  • The University of Exeter
  • The Anna Freud  National Centre for Children and Families 
  • Shift
  • Redthread
  • UCLPartners
  • The NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC)- South West Peninsula
  • The NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC)- North Thames

This work is funded by the UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP), which is funded by the British Heart Foundation, Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Welsh Government), Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research, Natural Environment Research Council, Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland), The Health Foundation and Wellcome.