Children and Young People's Mental Health Task Force: recommendations

Recommendations from Children and Young People’s Mental Health Task Force to Scottish Government and COSLA.

A Scotland wide commitment to children and young people's mental health

The Children & Young People's Mental Health Taskforce was tasked to investigate how to improve the way children's mental health services are organised, commissioned and provided and how to make it easier for young people to access help and support when needed. Members of the Taskforce, and its workstreams, have identified the following recommendations for consideration by the Scottish Government and COSLA.

The Taskforce believe that transformational change is required to improve children and young people's mental health and the services that support them, however it is recognised that a number of immediate actions are both required and possible to effect change in the short term.

Members consider that preventative approaches are central to this transformational change. Equally important is a whole system approach, underpinned by 'Getting it Right for Every Child' (GIRFEC). A whole system approach will help children, young people and their families receive the support they need when they need it.

The focus for delivery of our recommendations on the ground are the local Children's Services Partnerships (CSPs) as they are intended to support and build on existing and developing good practice. The Taskforce recognises the importance of responding to local needs with local solutions, and that across Scotland there are different structures and arrangements currently in place to support children, young people and their families. Therefore the starting point for implementing these recommendations will vary throughout Scotland. However what is most important is that that children and young people receive the right help, at the right time wherever they are.

There is a recognition that some of these recommendations may not have an immediate impact, while recent reports have identified that children and young people are currently not receiving the input they need now. Early intervention and prevention are vital to improving outcomes for children and young people, decreasing waiting times and reducing rejected referrals. However increasing this activity may not directly benefit the children and young people who are already waiting for help. It is also possible that enhanced identification of children and young people experiencing mental health difficulties will result in increased demand on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the short term. It is vital therefore that local CSPs should be actively responding to the identification of needs to ensure children, young people and their families receive the support they require.

As a Taskforce we are aware that our recommendations to date focus very much on school aged children, and that further work will be required to address the needs of young adults and pre-school children. The Youth Commission on Mental Health Services, who co-chair Taskforce meetings, were established to advise Scottish Government Ministers on how mental health services available in Scotland could be developed or improved to meet the needs of Scotland's young people. They have recently published their own set of recommendations, which the Taskforce are happy to endorse and will ensure inform future work.

These recommendations are intended to enhance and support the excellent work the Taskforce have seen and learned from during this initial phase. The Taskforce are encouraged and impressed by the dedication and creativity of frontline practitioners across the whole workforce, and the enthusiasm of the children, young people and their families who are actively involved in developing solutions.



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