Youth Engagement and Community-Based Participatory Research: The Bipolar Youth Action Project

Abstract

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by changes in mood (ranging between mania and depression), thinking, and behaviors. It is often first diagnosed in young adulthood, emphasizing the importance of early intervention. The Bipolar Youth Action Project took place in Victoria, BC, over 2 years. It was a community-based participatory research project co-led by a team of youth researchers who live with bipolar disorder, an academic researcher, and the lead of a community mental health organization. The Bipolar Youth Action Project explored (1) what wellness, or self-management, strategies youth with bipolar disorder use to stay well, and (2) how youth chose to share those strategies with the wider community. Over two research and community-engagement events, called Youth Forum I and Youth Forum II, the research team recruited 29 youth with bipolar disorder from British Columbia to discuss these research questions, gathering knowledge via a range of diverse research methods, including qualitative (focus group), quantitative, consultation (World Café), and arts-based approaches (graphic facilitation). Forum I findings included description of four approaches to self-management strategies used by youth with bipolar disorder. In Forum II, youth participants talked about how they would want knowledge about these self-management strategies shared with the wider community. Based on findings from Forum II, the research team produced three videos as one form of knowledge translation output from the Bipolar Youth Action Project. The videos share (1) mindfulness strategies used by youth participants in the Bipolar Youth Action Project (http://ow.ly/y5iN300xW0L), (2) key messages that participants wanted to share with other youth who live with bipolar disorder (http://ow.ly/EZqP300xVYs), and (3) the process of the Bipolar Youth Action Project study itself (http://ow.ly/FUOx300xVVJ).

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