Blog Xplore Health

Five hundred high school students do research on how to promote their emotional well-being with the project “Healthy Mind”

by: XploreHealth - Category: Other - February 12, 2016

Five hundred high school students do research on how to promote their emotional well-being with the project “Healthy Mind”

• The topic was chosen by more than a thousand students from fifteen pilot XploreHealth secondary schools of Catalonia, who identified depression and the stress as those health problems that concern them most.

• Currently, five hundred students are taking part in participatory research projects "for them and with them," carried out with the cooperation of high school students, university students and researchers from five research centers and universities. The process will culminate in May with the presentation of the research results in a congress and the production of a Decalogue of proposals for improving prevention actions in this field that will be sent to heads of public health.

• The project is carried out under the project Xplorehealth, jointly promoted by Obra Social "la Caixa" and IrsiCaixa with the collaboration of Amgen Foundation and the European projects EnRRICH and RRI Tools.


Xplore Health project, a joint initiative of IrsiCaixa and Obra Social "la Caixa", in collaboration with the European projects EnRRICH and RRI Tools, have started a pilot project for Responsible Research and Innovation called "Sana Ment" (Healthy Mind), which revolves around mental health and more specifically the causes and prevention of stress and depression among young people. This project is conducted in collaboration with 15 teachers, 500 students and 4 research centers and universities, as well as engaging with patients' associations, politicians and companies. The final aim is to design and implement health interventions “for students and with students” involving them in research and innovation processes, which will empower them and promote good health habits.

This type of educational intervention is pioneer in Catalonia and counts with the participation of five research centers and universities: the Unit of Public Engagement on Health Research at IrsiCaixa, who coordinates the project and the methodologies of collective deliberation; the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL); the Research Group on in Health Sciences Education of the University Pompeu Fabra (UPF); the Research Group on Health Sciences at the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Barcelona (UB); and the Research Group on Mental Health and Social Innovation (SAMI) of the University of Vic (UVic).

The “Sana Ment” project contemplates two lines of action: 1) participatory community research projects, where different actors carry out research in collaboration with different stakeholders and develop skills such as scientific reasoning, critical thinking and civic participation; and 2) facilitating their participation in interventions in its social context, making suggestions for improving the prevention programs implemented from companies, patient associations or the administration.


The project started its activities in Catalonia during the year 2014-15 when more than 1.000 high school students identified priority areas around mental health such as stress, depression and emotional wellbeing. In a second phase, they agreed on a collective agenda of needs and designed Responsible Research and Innovation projects to respond to the interests identified.

In early 2016 the research phase has begun, which will culminate with the presentation of the results obtained by the students, together with researchers at a conference in CosmoCaixa. To conclude the intervention phase, participants will carry out a dynamic participatory governance process, which will end with the production of a Decalogue of recommendations, including those with the participation of politicians.

The methodologies used follow quality standards of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI, its acronym in English) and at the same time are inspired by the model of Science Shops and Living Labs promoted at European level, where methods such as participatory community research (CBPR, its acronym in English), open innovation and participatory governance are implemented. This initiative seeks greater collaboration between different stakeholders to cooperate throughout the process of research and innovation, which will ensure that the results are more in line with the values, needs and expectations of students.

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