The Leadership Required for Transformational Change
Scotland requires a top to bottom commitment to making children and young people's mental health and wellbeing a demonstrable exemplar of GIRFEC in action. This should cover; children and families' services, early years & childcare services, school and post-school education, primary healthcare, specialist mental health services, neurodevelopmental services and the third sector.
All organisations or partnerships which can make a positive contribution should publicly commit to doing so. It should be clear to staff working in all relevant organisations, at all levels, that they are encouraged and supported to work in partnership with others to deliver on that commitment.
The Scottish Government and COSLA have made a strong statement of intent by co-commissioning the Taskforce. This shows real commitment to identifying a better approach. It is essential going forward that both parties commit to working together over the long term to deliver that approach.
A formal, long term public commitment at this stage will send out an important signal across the public sector and beyond that both spheres of government are committed to working together for the sustained period it will take to make the changes Scotland requires. It will also give assurance that the two spheres will jointly consider these recommendations and seek to work in unison through to implementation.
Recommendation 1: The Scottish Government and COSLA should commit to a formal, long term partnership to jointly drive the reform of Scotland’s approach to children and young people’s mental health. In doing so, they should use their powers of direction and influence to ensure public bodies and local partnerships demonstrate this commitment through the priority it receives.
To support those working together on the frontline to deliver services, clear and unambiguous commitment is needed at all strategic levels. Children and young people's mental health should be a visible priority for relevant public bodies and partnerships.
This means that we should expect priority to be given to promoting positive mental health and meeting the needs of children, young people and their families in:
- Community Planning Partnership Local Outcome Improvement Plans and Children's Services Plans;
- Primary Care Improvement Plans;
- Education Improvement Plans and School Improvement Plans.
Recommendation 2: The Scottish Government and COSLA should demonstrate joint leadership through establishing a strategic partnership with partners across a range of sectors and organisations to enhance and accelerate improvement in children and young people’s mental health as a priority.
The range of partners involved in providing mental health services and support to children and young people, and to their families, is recognised, both in the public and third sector. Our expectation is that organisations continue to work together and partnerships with the third sector grow and develop to support this, the Scottish Government and COSLA should enter into a strategic partnership with all partners involved, importantly including representative groups from the third sector. This should focus on jointly planning the evolving nature of the sector's contribution.
Recommendation 3: The Scottish Government and COSLA should recognise the vital and increasing role the third sector performs in supporting and improving the mental health of children and young people and should ensure they are fully involved and represented in strategic partnerships at a local and national level.