Applying systems approaches to stakeholder and community engagement and knowledge mobilisation in youth mental health system modelling

Louise Freebairn*, Yun Ju Christine Song, Jo An Occhipinti, Samantha Huntley, Pat Dudgeon, Julie Robotham, Grace Yeeun Lee, Samuel Hockey, Geoff Gallop, Ian B. Hickie

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: There is a significant push to change the trajectory of youth mental ill-health and suicide globally. Ensuring that young people have access to services that meet their individual needs and are easily accessible is a priority. Genuine stakeholder engagement in mental health system design is critical to ensure that system strengthening is likely to be successful within these complex environments. There is limited literature describing engagement processes undertaken by research teams in mental health program implementation and planning. This protocol describes the methods that will be used to engage local communities using systems science methods to mobilize knowledge and action to strengthen youth mental health services. Methods: Using participatory action research principles, the research team will actively engage with local communities to ensure genuine user-led participatory systems modelling processes and enhance knowledge mobilisation within research sites. Ensuring that culturally diverse and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community voices are included will support this process. A rigorous site selection process will be undertaken to ensure that the community is committed and has capacity to actively engage in the research activities. Stakeholder engagement commences from the site selection process with the aim to build trust between researchers and key stakeholders. The research team will establish a variety of engagement resources and make opportunities available to each site depending on their local context, needs and audiences they wish to target during the process. Discussion: This protocol describes the inclusive community engagement and knowledge mobilization process for the Right care, first time, where you live research Program. This Program will use an iterative and adaptive approach that considers the social, economic, and political context of each community and attempts to maximise research engagement. A theoretical framework for applying systems approaches to knowledge mobilization that is flexible will enable the implementation of a participatory action research approach. This protocol commits to a rigorous and genuine stakeholder engagement process that can be applied in mental health research implementation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20
    JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Systems
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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