THE Young Mental Health Lab is currently raising awareness about youth mental health with its campus-wide competition called “YMHmattersUCD”, which challenges students to make a video about mental health. The compeition pledges €700 of prizes in order to promote creativity and enthusiasm among students about this important topic. The deadline is the 27th of March.

YHM Lab was established in 2013 by three UCD academics to promote research in young people’s mental health, and to translate research findings into having a positive impact on the lives of young people.

The lab consists of a community of researchers who work together to affect social change using research into youth mental health – specifically in the areas of risk and resilience in adolescent mental health, stigma and use of technology to promote positive mental health. By engaging with schools and the UCD community, they aim to increase awareness of mental health among young people.

Schools take part in the lab’s research, and the results are disseminated twice a year both at outreach events for schools, and also in peer-reviewed journals. Most recently, members of the lab reported on research they carried out on young people in Leinster, concluding that a particular training programme for socially anxious adolescents called Attentional Bias Modification was ineffective in improving feelings of social anxiety in this group. This finding is intended to inform future treatment programmes for social anxiety in teenagers.

The lab is currently carrying out studies on appearance, chronic illness and stigma, and on negative biases in people with mood and anxiety disorders; all of which aim to improve the mental wellbeing of young people.

Two of the lab’s founders, Dr Barbara Dooley and Dr Eilis Hennessy, sat on the committee that produced the UCD mental health policy, which was put in place to help students experiencing mental health difficulties. It is available to view online at www.mentalhealth.ucd.ie, along with emergency contact details for those in urgent need of help.

The lab has set up an email at ymhlabucd@ucd.ie for those who are interested in learning more and getting involved in the competition, or else at @YMHlabUCD on Twitter.