Call // 01223 781 296

Mental Health Hackathon: giving young people the chance to shape future health services

On 17 February, the Eastern AHSN ran a Mental Health Hackathon for young people interested in shaping local health services, with a hope to recruit new youth members to the East of England Citizens’ Senate. Form the Future managed the event, which was held at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, just outside of Cambridge.

Francesca Gale, Education Development Lead at the Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement, said:

“We’re delighted to have young people on campus engaging with important topics, such as mental health. Genomics is playing such an important part in the health service, it’s fantastic for them to come together here and experience the science on-site.”

The young delegates heard from a variety of speakers who are involved with delivering or improving healthcare services in the region, including Kevin James, a patient leader in mental health. He shared his personal experience of living with mental health conditions, the difference it would’ve made to have been diagnosed earlier in his life and the difficulties accessing the right services in his area.

Helen Oliver, Director of Network Leadership at Eastern AHSN said:

“This event was designed to inspire and activate young people from across the Eastern region to get involved with the Citizen Senate which supports the transformation of health and care services. We hope that some of the ideas from today will be shared with the NHS to support them to design interventions that work better for young people.”

Kevin James added, “I wanted to get involved with the hackathon as I don’t want young people to experience the same challenges I have. As a Patient Leader and member of the Citizen Senate, I was a natural go-to person to help design the event and task the delegates with developing ideas that focus on earlier intervention and reducing the stigma around mental health.”

The solutions developed included apps to improve the lives of young people living with mental health conditions, increasing education of mental health within the school curriculum and a website that provides one-to-one communication between service users and medical professionals.

Mikaela Sanderud, a Year 12 student at Comberton Sixth Form, said:

“I wanted to get involved with the hackathon as it looked fun and interesting, but also because I have personal experience of friends struggling with mental health issues and wanted to help them. It sounded like this would help me make a difference. It’s been a fantastic event and I loved the freedom to come up with new ideas in a friendly, non-competitive environment.

Anne Bailey, Co-founder and Director of Form the Future CIC, added: “Events like this hackathon benefit everyone. The young people get insight into the workings of the NHS and the chance to contribute to shaping health services while industry, in this case the NHS, gets to learn from young people, with their unique perspectives. Some of the contributions that I heard today from young people – like the spoken word poem recounting a patient’s experience – would never have come out of a traditional NHS committee.”

We are excited to see what ideas and changes the NHS may be able to develop and implement following this event, and hope that the passionate young people who took part will pave the way for change.

If you are interested in finding out more about what we do, or would like us to manage a bespoke educational event like this Hackathon, just get in touch!


Register to volunteer

Thank you for choosing to become a volunteer with Form the Future! In order to join our volunteer community and get yourself involved in some of our events, please follow these steps:


  1. Click the button below and complete the Registration Form
  2. Upon receiving your completed form we will create a Volunteer Profile for you then send you log in details and information on how to sign up for volunteering opportunities
  3. You can then sign up for volunteering opportunities at your leisure!


Our goal is that all young people move successfully from education into employment. As a social enterprise, we are reliant on grants and corporate funding in order to work with the schools across Cambridgeshire. Even the smallest donation helps us to provide careers inspiration for every child. Click below to find out more about what your donation could do for young people in your community.