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Award-winning Aardman to partner in a new mental health project for young people

Date: 10/10/2019

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) are pleased to announce an exciting research partnership which aims to raise awareness of mental health issues among young people.

The AHRC will be funding a collaborative study between award-winning Aardman, and the universities of Nottingham, Loughborough and LSE.

The project, which will launch next year, will develop and evaluate the impact of a series of animated stories and a companion app which aim to increase young people's mental health literacy.

The partnership is being led by Paul Crawford, Professor of Health Humanities at the University of Nottingham, in partnership with Aardman and the universities of Loughborough and LSE.

Professor Paul Crawford said: “Creative practices in the arts and humanities have the potential for transforming people's mental health.  However, there is little in the way of research evidence for animated stories and mental health literacy. We need much clearer and robust evidence of potential impact on young people.

“With a growing burden of mental distress on young people combined with rising costs for the delivery of services, it is timely to investigate how animated stories could play their part in advancing mental health literacy among young people and helping them find ways to deal with life's challenges.”

Heather Wright, Executive Director at Aardman said: “Aardman are eager to partner on this ground breaking project with AHRC and Universities of Nottingham, Loughborough and LSE bringing our expertise in stories and characters to determine whether or not animation can help to better equip students for the mental health challenges of modern life.

The project will develop engaging animations and a companion app that aims to help young people, their friends, families and communities, to better understand mental health issues and when and how to seek help if they have concerns. Through extensive engagement with those audiences, it will also seek to evaluate the efficacy and impact of these creative outputs in order to inform the much-needed evidence base in this area.

Dr Paul Meller, Associate Director of Programmes at AHRC said: “The mental health challenges facing young people in the UK are significant and complex. By bringing together the skills and knowledge of world-leading Aardman with research experts across the arts and humanities and health, this project seeks to understand how animated stories can play an important part in improving mental health literacy among young people. In doing so it offers great potential to help shape future policy, provision and practice.”

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