Children and Young People's Mental Health Taskforce: delivery plan

The independent taskforce aims to improve mental health services for young people.


The Children and Young People's Mental Health Taskforce has been jointly commissioned by Scottish Government and COSLA to develop a whole system approach to children and young people's mental health in Scotland. The aim is that children, young people and their families should know that they will be supported in good mental health and will be able to access help for mental health problems which is local, responsive and evidence based.

The Taskforce will focus on the areas and services that impact on and support the mental health and mental wellbeing of children and young people aged 0 to 24, in recognition that whole-system change requires the input of many partners from a range of sectors.

The Taskforce will make recommendations to Ministers and to COSLA and have a role in supporting partners in making the changes needed. This recognises that partnership and collaboration between the Scottish Government and Local Government, working with a broad range of partners, will be essential in making progress towards joint solutions and to get it right for every child.

This document serves as an initial delivery plan. It will be a dynamic plan, developing over the lifespan of the Taskforce. The taskforce will focus on a range of immediate steps including the development of detailed work plans for each workstream between now and April 2019.

In her initial recommendations, Dame Denise proposed the Taskforce frame their work around four strands which aim to bring clarity and offer a framework for its considerations. The four strands are:

  • Generic Services, providing prevention, early intervention and appropriate support
  • Neurodevelopmental Services
  • Specialist Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services
  • Additional Services For Young People At Risk, providing support for children and young people who are at heightened risk of poor mental health, but who have often not been able to access mental health services

The recommendations were published on 11 September 2018, and the Taskforce met for the first time on 25 October 2018. The full set of recommendations is included at annex A. While focusing on the strands outlined above, the Taskforce will consider what is required to deliver effective and efficient journeys

The Taskforce will examine our whole approach to children & young people's mental health, with a focus on early intervention and prevention as well as clinical and pre-clinical services, and is backed with £5 million funding. It will develop a blueprint for how communities and services, and surrounding support, can better meet the needs of children and young people and prevent mental ill health where possible.

In doing so we will carefully consider specific issues including how those young people who have experienced adverse childhood experiences and trauma can be supported to avoid long term mental health difficulties; how the work of Health Improvement Scotland to improve Early Intervention Psychosis services across the country should be taken forward; and the development of new referral criteria for Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services within a reformed approach to children and young people's mental health.

At all stages we will ensure that our approach considers the specific needs of children and young people with different protected characteristics and from different backgrounds. While recognising that the most important requirement is that children and young people have support from an enhanced workforce alongside their families and friends, we will also carefully consider the role that digital technologies can play in enhancing the delivery of services and how online resources can be brought together to make access to information and support for children and young people easier.

The Taskforce membership is made up of representatives from across sectors, including; education, health and social care, third sector, Scottish Government and Local Government. This is designed to ensure a whole-system and cross-sectoral approach to improving children and young people's mental health and transforming the services they can access.

The Taskforce is using a rights-based approach to support the development of recommendations for Scottish Government and COSLA on prevention, early intervention and how mental health services, wider services that children and families access and the support around them, can better meet the needs of children and young people. The Taskforce is clear that whilst it will report to Ministers and to COSLA, it is answerable to the children and young people of Scotland and their families, and will therefore ensure a focus on collaboration with them.

The Taskforce is co-chaired by members of the Youth Commission on Mental Health, which is facilitated by SAMH and Young Scot, to ensure that the voices of children and young people are kept at the centre of this work. Children and young people will be involved in all of our workstreams. We will convene a children and young people's reference group which will be separate from the taskforce and additional to the young people involved in the Taskforce and its workstreams.

The children and young people's mental health workforce is absolutely central to the work required to transform our approach to children and young people's mental health services. Drawing on their expertise will be critical to the success of the Taskforce. At all stages and in all aspects of our work we will ensure that we engage in meaningful ways with a wide cross section of the workforce.


Email: Neil Guy

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