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.

Support for Innovation and Change

To develop and expand mental health support and services for children and young people it is vital that the Taskforce is informed by what works. The Taskforce should enter an innovation phase that will support a series of 'pathfinders' to establish and test new models of children and young people's mental health programmes. These pathfinders will help children and young people in the immediate term, while also helping to clarify what will work in the long term to enhance children and young people's mental health services.

The Taskforce has seen examples of current good practice across the country however innovation and creativity are needed to establish the whole system approach described above. This approach would begin to fill an already identified gap with the potential for scaling and replication. In the long term we would look to see partnerships drawing on this learning in response to demand.

Recommendation 7: In order to reinforce the requirement to take action and responsibility as part of a whole system, the Scottish Government and COSLA should jointly commission a small number of pathfinders in different parts of Scotland.

Pathfinders should involve collaboration with CSPs, the endorsement of the relevant NHS Board and Primary Care community and a strong role for the third sector.

Proposals should include:

  • How the area's Children's Services Partnership will improve. This should include what is currently being delivered across its universal, additional and targeted services and should involve professionals from across a range of organisations and services, including CAMHS.
  • Potential priority and high risk groups within the whole systems approach, such as; pre-birth to five year olds, children and young people of school age out of the school system, young adults 16-25 not in education, employment or training and children and young people who require support between what is available ‎through universal services and specialist CAMHS services.
  • How the GIRFEC framework will be used effectively across primary care, specialist services and community services
  • How the active involvement of children, young people and their families can be developed and improved to achieve an effective local approach that is trusted and has their confidence.

Pathfinders should be provided with:

  • Funding and support resources, such as data and information.
  • Support to identify and focus on two or three key and distinct issues and to learn from other models, both within and out with the children's services sector.

This is a particular priority for ensuring children and young people who are currently at risk of not being able to access services to get the right help at the right time. Pathfinders will therefore have to actively engage with some of those communities of children. Early suggestions from the At Risk workstream include a need for pathfinders to focus on:

  • A coherent response for those children at heightened risk of poor mental health outcomes as a result of experiences of poor relational health in early childhood. These tests will require to adopt an attachment focussed, relationship based approach and will best be delivered in family homes and community resources and should be led by organisations with experience of family support.
  • A coherent approach across the Pathfinders to ensure early and effective perinatal support is in place for those families at heightened risk of poor mental health in the perinatal stages.

It will be for Community Planning and Children's Service Planning Partnerships to design their responses, but these should be tailored in a manner which allows the test, learning and review process to the applied effectively.

The Neurodevelopmental and Specialist CAMHS Workstreams emphasise the need for professionals who are working in CAMHS and Neurodevelopmental services to provide support to the Pathfinders, within a 'whole system' model in support of children and young people's mental health. It is vital they are committed to developing and learning as part of these local Pathfinders and will be supported to do so.



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