Mental health support for children and young people

Expansion of service helping those in crisis.

A programme supporting young people with complex social issues attending A&E is to be expanded.

The Youth Navigators programme, delivered by Medics Against Violence, supports young people aged 12-16 arriving at Emergency Departments who are in distress. The service provides trained youth workers – Youth Navigators - to identify the help young people need and provide practical support so they can access relevant longer-term support.

The initiative has supported more than 600 young people since 2021 – most had experienced issues with their mental health and wellbeing; some on a chronic basis related to issues at home, with friend groups or bullying, and some more acutely experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings and who may have caused harm to themselves.

Scottish Government funding of £64,000 will allow the expansion of the service to University Hospital Wishaw and a pilot of the Youth Navigator programme in schools.

Mental Wellbeing Minister Maree Todd said:

“I am pleased to announce additional funding to pilot the expansion of the Youth Navigator programme to University Hospital Wishaw and to pilot a new Youth Navigator approach by partnering with Taylor High in New Stevenson in Lanarkshire to place Youth Navigators in their school. Since the Youth Navigator programme started in mid-2021 it has supported over 600 young people.

“This additional support for the programme is in addition to the substantial investment we are already making to improve the mental health and wellbeing support provided to children, young people and their families in Scotland.

“This funding is the result of the Scottish Government listening to children, young people and families and taking direct action in the areas where they have told us more support is needed. Ensuring that all children and young people can get the right mental health and wellbeing support at the right time is a key priority for this government as our continued record investment in this area goes to show.”

Co-Director and founder of Medics Against Violence, Professor Christine Goodall said:

“We are delighted to receive funding from the Scottish Government to pilot the expansion of the Youth Navigator programme. The youth work approach that the Youth Navigators take provides young people with a trusted adult with whom they can discuss their feelings and through discussing what is most important to them, put plans in place to support a safer future.

“The expansion of the programme in the hospital setting is much needed and often requested by hospitals, the new approach of placing Youth Navigators in the school setting helps to take prevention further upstream to try and support young people with any issues they are facing before they get to the crisis point where they require medical intervention.”

A young person who received support from the Youth Navigator programme said:

"I appreciate what the Youth Navigator programme has done for me - giving me someone to talk to who won't invalidate my feelings and genuinely help me is something I've always wanted. I am so grateful to those involved - they really made a difference in my life."


Medics Against Violence is financially supported by Scottish Government Community Safety (£267,000) and Scottish Government health funding (£70,000) in 2023-2024. The Hospital Navigator programme aims to prevent violence and reduce harm for adults and young people and is part of the collaborative partnership activity to help implement the Violence Prevention Framework for Scotland.



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