Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund: year 1 - national fund guidance

Community fund guidance note dated October 2021 covering year 1 of the Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund 2021 to 2022.

Part 1: Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund


In February 2021, an additional £120 million was announced for a Recovery and Renewal Fund to ensure delivery of the commitments set out in the Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan. This funding comes in response to the mental health need arising from the pandemic, and is also intended to benefit the full agenda for mental health and wellbeing in line with the four areas of key need set out in the Plan.

As part of the Recovery and Renewal Fund, the Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care announced a new Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund (the Fund) for adults on 15 October 2021, with £15 million being made available in 2021- 22. This is the first year of a two-year fund to support mental health and well-being in communities across Scotland. The Fund will be distributed by Third Sector Interfaces (TSI’s) to community groups and organisations. This funding reflects the importance we place on community support as part of our overall mental health infrastructure and the commitments given by Scottish Ministers to increase direct mental health investment, in both the NHS Recovery Plan and this year’s Programme for Government.

Building on the focus on wellbeing and prevention in the Transition and Recovery Plan, the Fund will provide significant investment into community support for adults. This investment complements the children and young people’s community wellbeing supports currently being rolled out across Scotland. It also has strong links to the Scottish Government’s commitment to ensure that every GP Practice will have access to a primary care mental health and wellbeing service by 2026, providing funding for 1,000 additional dedicated staff who can help grow community mental health resilience and direct social prescribing.

This guidance outlines in more detail what the Fund is about, how it will be delivered, who can apply and how to do this.

Fund outcomes

The intended outcome of the Fund is to develop a culture of mental wellbeing and prevention within local communities and across Scotland with improved awareness of how we can all stay well and help ourselves and others.

The Fund seeks to contribute to the four key areas of focus from the Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan:

  • Promoting and supporting the conditions for good mental health and wellbeing at population level
  • Providing accessible signposting to help, advice and support
  • Providing a rapid and easily accessible response to those in distress
  • Ensuring safe, effective treatment and care of people living with mental illness

The Fund also seeks to contribute to the following national outcomes from the National Performance Framework:

  • We are healthy and active
  • We will live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe
  • We tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally

Fund aims and priorities

In line with our long term outcomes for mental health in communities, this Fund intends to provide stable investment for:

  • Fostering a strategic and preventative approach to improving community mental health
  • Supporting the resilience of communities and investing in their capacity to develop their own solutions, including through strong local partnerships
  • Tackling the social determinants of mental health by targeting resources and collaborating with other initiatives to tackle poverty and inequality

The overarching aim of the Fund is to support community based initiatives that promote and develop good mental health and wellbeing and/or mitigate and protect against the impact of distress and mental ill health within the adult population, with a particular focus in 2021/22 on:

1. Tackling priority issues within the Transition and Recovery Plan such as suicide prevention, social isolation and loneliness, prevention and early intervention

2. Addressing the mental health inequalitiesexacerbated by the pandemic and the needs of a range of ‘at risk’ groups[1] locally

3. Supporting small ‘grass roots’ community groups and organisations to deliver such activities

4. Providing opportunities for people to connect with each other, build trusted relationships and revitalise communities

5. Supporting recovery and creativity locally by building on what is already there, what was achieved through the pandemic, and by investing in creative solutions

Fund criteria

The fund criteria set outs out the broad parameters for how funding should be allocated to community organisations. However, this is intended to be flexible in order to allow local partnership groups to identify their own priorities for spend within the terms of the fund criteria and in line with their local partnership plan (see below). Funding decisions should reflect the broad principles of the fund criteria as well as local priorities.

Who can apply

The ambition of this Fund is to support initiatives which promote mental health and wellbeing at a small scale, grass roots, community level. It should be accessible to all groups, no matter how small or inexperienced they are. It can support both new and existing groups or projects. These do not have to have mental health and wellbeing as their main focus, but their application does have to clearly benefit the mental wellbeing of people in their community.

Applications can be accepted from a range of voluntary, ‘not for profit’ organisations, associations, groups and clubs or consortiums/partnerships which have a strong community focus for their activities. The range of organisations that can apply are:

  • Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations (SCIO)
  • Unincorporated Associations
  • Companies Limited by Guarantee
  • Trusts
  • Not-for-profit company or asset locked company or Community Interest Companies (CIC)
  • Cooperative and Community Benefit Societies
  • Community councils

Local partnerships can also consider funding unconstituted groups, either by supporting them to be become constituted, or by providing small value grants (for example up to £2,000) for wellbeing support and capacity building purposes. Local partnerships can also consider allowing a constituted entity (that meets criteria above) to hold a grant for the unconstituted group. The TSI as grant giver would require to be satisfied with arrangements in terms of assurance around monitoring and accountability of spend.

Type of projects we can support

The focus of the Fund is on the adult population and on projects which help whole communities and/or community groups, in turn making a difference to the lives of individuals. The adult population is considered to be those 16 and over, in that a wide range of community supports (such as an art club focusing on mental wellbeing) will be open to this age group. We recognise that there is some overlap with children and young people community support funding although that funding is focused on targeted CYP projects.

As outlined in the fund aims, it should fund community based initiatives that promote and develop good mental health and wellbeing and/or mitigate and protect against the impact of distress and mental ill health within the adult population. In addition, local partnerships should ensure that funding is allocated to initiatives which have a focus on:

  • Tackling priority issues within the Transition and Recovery Plan such as suicide prevention, social isolation and loneliness, prevention and early intervention
  • Addressing the mental health inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic and the needs of one or more of the ‘at risk’ groups locally

Local partnerships are not expected to target all these aspects within their overall funding package, but should agree which priority issues and groups they will focus on. While the Fund can support the expansion of existing activities, it is intended to provide additionality, not replacement funding.

Projects should also have a specific community focus rather than providing regional or national coverage. Therefore, applications should be funded for initiatives based only within your local authority.

What we can fund

We have provided some example projects in Part 3 to demonstrate the type of work that could potentially be supported through the Fund. It is not intended to support specific clinical treatment services, such as counselling, or CBT. The following list is not exhaustive and local partnership groups are expected to apply due diligence to the exact conditions they set locally – please also see Part 2 Q&A for further details.

We will fund


Contingency costs, loans, endowments or interest

One-off events

Hall hire for community spaces

Small capital spend up to £10,000 ( or building projects – see details here [i])

Staff costs (noting this is a 2 year fund therefore one off or fixed term)

Training costs


Utilities/running costs

Volunteer expenses

Helping people to stay safe (PPE for small gatherings/group activity)

We cannot fund

Electricity generation and feed-in tariff payment

Political or religious campaigning

Profit-making/fundraising activities

VAT you can reclaim

Statutory activities

Overseas travel


How much organisations can apply for

There are no specific limits on the size of grant which can be applied for. The ambition is to ensure a broad reach across small community organisations through the distribution of smaller value grants, for example, those up to the value of £10,000. However, we anticipate that a smaller proportion of bids may be supported at a local level, for example, up to the value of £50,000.

When organisations can apply

All local application processes should be live no later than the 30 November 2021 at which point community groups can submit applications to the TSI. We would also expect the TSI to offer information and guidance about the local Fund arrangements to those groups which may need this from the date of announcement on 15th October.

Equalities considerations and at risk groups

Ensuring equality of access and full participation from all relevant and at risk communities is a priority. Local plans must take into account equalities considerations. This should identify mechanisms to publicise the Fund widely, involve groups and communities from across all at risk groups and ensure provision of sufficient support to enable equality of access for generally excluded/seldom heard from communities.

Evidence shows that the pandemic has exacerbated existing mental health inequalities and has had a disproportionate impact on the mental wellbeing of a range of groups in society. Local fund allocations should ensure a focus on initiatives which are inclusive of the following priority ‘at risk’ groups:

Women (particularly young women, and women and young women affected by male sexual violence); people with a long term health condition or disability; people who are or have been on the highest risk (previously shielding) list[2]; people from a Minority Ethnic background; refugees and those with no recourse to public funds; people facing socio-economic disadvantage; people experiencing severe and multiple disadvantage; people with diagnosed mental illness[3]; people affected by psychological trauma (including adverse childhood experiences); people who have experienced bereavement or loss; people disadvantaged by geographical location (particularly remote and rural areas); older people (aged 50 and above); and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) communities

Where possible, applicants should outline how they will address intersectionality (i.e. multiple-marginalisation, such those experiencing both poverty and disability) and how their project specifically benefits any given community in an intersectional way. Applicants should also be asked to consider how their proposal contributes to promoting people’s human rights. Consideration could be made around supporting advocacy for people at a local level to access care and help with signposting of the community supports being funded.

Involving those with lived experience

Ideally all parts of the partnership and fund administration process should be informed by people with lived experience. In the context of this Fund, lived experience could, for example, include experience of mental health challenges, of being part of a marginalised group or of benefiting from mental wellbeing initiatives. Where possible people with lived experience should be involved from an early stage and in ongoing planning and decision making. By engaging with lived experience, better outcomes can be achieved. Some examples of the ways in which people with living experience can be empowered to develop policy and undertake projects can be found at Part 3.

Roles and responsibilities

The Fund will be delivered through a locally focused and co-ordinated approach, with a focus on collaboration across all processes. Local partnership groups should:

  • be comprised of TSI’s, Integration Authorities (via Health and Social Care Partnership Chief Officer or representative) and a range of other local partners
  • build upon existing partnerships, networks and alliances - to work together to ensure support to community based organisations is directed appropriately and in a coherent way.
  • prompt wider reflection on continuity of planning, action and wider engagement around how we support community mental health and wellbeing in future and align this with Primary Care

The purpose of the Fund is not primarily directed toward providing clinical interventions, but if any proposals do involve potential for clinically trained staff delivering therapeutic intervention there should be clear arrangements in place for clinical supervision and governance.

Lead funding partners

Funds from the Scottish Government will be distributed through a grant to the 32 local TSI’s across Scotland who will each act as the lead funding partner. They will work collaboratively with the other local partners, particularly with Integration Authorities (via Health and Social Care Partnership Chief Officer or representative) to establish local need and a process to distribute the Fund locally in line with the fund aims, priorities and criteria, in keeping with local strategies and priorities.

This partnership approach seeks to build on the strengths of the lead partners:

  • TSI’s are well positioned to provide knowledge and connections to, and capacity building support for community groups; have flexibility and agility to help timely delivery of funds to community groups, building on the good work undertaken through the emergency funding during the pandemic
  • The close involvement of Integration Authorities will ensure strategic planning and coherence with existing local mental health plans and strategies and an understanding of how the wider mental health delivery infrastructure can complement community support

The Fund (and the separate grant to support TSI’s administration and capacity building role – see Funding Arrangements) should be used to:

  • Strengthen the role and capacity of those working to support community mental health and wellbeing, including for example local third sector organisations, small community groups etc.
  • Strengthen the learning, development and capacity building across those in receipt of this funding
  • Build wider capacity and ensure sustainability over time
  • Utilise an asset-based approach to working with communities to plan and co-design learning and capacity building opportunities
  • Minimise bureaucracy and ensure application and monitoring processes are fit for purpose, accessible and prevent delays in money reaching the communities that would benefit most
  • Promote a co-production approach to developing local solutions for communities and individuals, encouraging recognised participants to work alongside new providers and partners from other sectors and ensuring that the voice of lived and living experience is at the forefront in all stages of the process
  • Demonstrate the value of partnership working

The table below outlines the roles and responsibilities of the different members of the partnership groups.

Task / Role


Integration Authorities(via HSCP Chief Officer or representative)

Other partners

Scottish Government


Assess local priorities within the scope of Fund criteria

Coordinate local plan and sharing of this with Scottish Government

Contribute - with specific input in terms of IA strategic plan and local mental health plans

Advisory – particularly equalities groups and those with living experience

Support, advise and share with National Oversight Group

Seek fund applications

Lead – action to promote the Fund



Promote Fund through existing networks

Devise fund administration processes



Advisory - particularly equalities groups and those with living experience

Advise and support where needed

Assess local funding applications




No role – guidance provided sets out broad parameters of the Fund

Capacity building

with potential applicants



Advisory - particularly equalities groups and those with living experience

Support through Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Network and National Oversight Group

Evaluation and Monitoring

Lead - devise local monitoring and report to Scottish Government

Contribute - in line with existing reporting

Advisory - particularly equalities groups and those with living experience

Collate local partnership plans; coordinate national evaluation; devise reporting templates in line with this

National Oversight Group




Establish and support

Wider networking




Establish Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Network and support this

Other partners

Although the TSI’s and Integration Authorities are critical partners, broad collaboration is important to ensure outcomes are inclusive and have maximum impact. TSI’s should aim to build on existing partnerships and as far as it is practical and realistic, should adopt a flexible approach (varying by local priorities) to working with, involving or consulting a range of relevant bodies, such as:

  • Community Planning Partnerships
  • Local authority mental health leads i.e. children and young people community services leads
  • Community anchor organisations
  • Umbrella groups and organisations which represent particular geographies or key priority groups i.e. Minority Ethnic groups, Regional Equalities Councils, Scottish National Rural Mental Health Forum, LEADER network for Rural Scotland[4]
  • Community Link workers
  • Suicide prevention practitioners i.e. the new local suicide prevention implementation officers
  • Other sectors such as culture, physical activity, heritage, green and outdoor space

In particular the TSI and local partnership should ensure that the Fund builds on and enhances local strategic plans for mental health and wellbeing – such as Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) mental health strategies and Community Planning Partnership plans.

Local partnership plans for the Fund

The TSIs will coordinate the co-production of a Fund local partnership plan which should set out priorities for spend locally within the parameters of the fund criteria. The purpose of the local partnership plans is to:

  • Ensure coherence of approach locally
  • Tie into existing planning for mental health and community wellbeing
  • Provide a strategic approach to addressing identified priorities locally in line with fund criteria
  • Take account of current provision and address evidence on gaps in support
  • Agree a set of outcomes for community mental health and wellbeing support locally and identify the contribution the Fund will make to these

TSIs should engage closely with HSCP Chief Officers or representatives on the plan to ensure fit with strategic plans of IJBs. The plan may be shared with integrated joint boards however given the tight timescales would not be involved in signing off of the plans.

Partnerships are also encouraged to look to new and imaginative solutions using the knowledge of those working in other sectors, where possible in order to expand the opportunities which the Fund presents for doing things differently.

The format for the local partnership plans should be decided locally, although we will provide a framework for sharing and reporting on these plans to contribute to national monitoring of local progress, narrative of achievement and highlighting any learning for future years.

In order to connect up the system at a local level, information on what has been funded through the Communities Fund and its impact (i.e. numbers using the support, impacts on individuals and so on) should be shared by each TSI with their integration authority who should update local mental health strategies and plans in line with this. To measure impact of the Fund and ensure connections are made across the system, the TSI and local partnership (where possible) should draw on local data and statistics relating to mental health and wellbeing held by General Practitioner practices and NHS services - such as numbers referrals for mental health difficulties, numbers of people rejected for therapeutic support.

National Oversight Group

The Scottish Government will establish a National Oversight Group which will:

  • Provide a layer of governance and oversight that brings together key stakeholders
  • Make connections with other relevant national developments on mental health
  • Support local partnership group proposals in line with fund criteria and local priorities and have national oversight of the gaps in provision for priority groups
  • Advise on evaluation and reporting best practice and provide feedback on progress locally in line with this
  • Report directly to the Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care on progress
  • Focus meetings on discussion of emerging risks, updates on progress of key actions, and any mitigating actions that require to be taken

National Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Network

The Scottish Government will support local partnership groups by developing a National Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Network to bring together local partnerships and projects regularly to share practice, network and develop capacity.

Funding arrangements

Allocations to each of the 32 TSIs will be based on the NHS Scotland Resource Allocation Committee Formula (NRAC) formula, which is commonly used in mental health allocations. The details of the fund allocation will be outlined in the grant letters. Additional funding (on top of the £15 million) will also be distributed to each TSI in recognition of the substantial effort required in the administration of the fund particularly to tight timescales, and of the importance of the capacity building element of this Fund as an outcome in its own right. This funding will be provided at 7.5% of the value of the fund allocation for the TSI, with a minimum baseline payment of £10,000 for the Island TSIs.

Fund administration

TSIs will take the lead in administering the Fund, securing input from their Integration Authority and wider partners throughout. This will involve:

  • Setting in place a ‘light touch’ application process
  • Promotion and awareness raising of the Fund
  • Inviting bids from individual community groups and organisations
  • Providing capacity building support to ensure access for less well developed organisations
  • Considering potential of collaboration of bids and partners where possible
  • Assessing bids, undertaking due diligence on applicants and making funding decisions in line with the local partnership plan and fund criteria as set out in this guide
  • Issuing grant letters and managing payments appropriately to individual community groups and organisations
  • Taking a lead on gathering intelligence and monitoring progress in their locality
  • Reporting on distribution and impact to the National Oversight Group and Scottish Government

Application process

Application processes can be adapted around existing local funding arrangements, such as if a community commissioning approach is being used. These arrangements and decision making structures must be representative, with good involvement of people with lived experience, and include sufficient training, expertise and knowledge to enable decision making based on objective criteria. A further priority is to ensure application processes are simple in order to enable small scale and inexperienced applicants to access funds. Examples of accessible application processes include National Lottery Community Fund, Delivering Equally Safe and the Equality and Human Rights Fund.

Capacity building

TSIs, with support from wider partners, will have a key role in building capacity with the individual community groups involved, from supporting them to complete basic funding applications to providing advice, support and making connections throughout the project. To ensure funding reaches the groups who need it most, partnerships are asked to actively encourage and support less experienced small scale organisations who support mental health of priority groups. Particular care should be taken to ensure that more marginalised groups, who may not be as used to funding processes and are less able to respond quickly, are not disadvantaged.

Assessing applications

When assessing and agreeing individual bids, it will be the responsibility of the local partnership group to look at individual applications as well as strategically at the coherence of proposals across their area, in line with their local partnership plan. Part of this oversight should include an assessment of the impact on specific groups and provision of this information though monitoring processes.

Accountability and monitoring

As the grant holders, TSIs will also have overall accountability for spend at a local level and will lead on reporting to national monitoring processes as well as to local evaluation. Requirements for monitoring and reporting will be communicated to TSIs in the coming weeks. These are expected to be light touch with TSIs expected to:

  • Provide an interim update and end of year report
  • Provide evidence of achievement against fund criteria and outcomes
  • Share best practice and feedback on what has worked

A Scottish Government Fund Implementation Manager will be the named contact for the Fund (details to follow). They will lead on facilitating the Network and undertaking national monitoring of the Fund.


Oct 2021

  • Fund announced by the Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care
  • Fund allocation letter to TSIs outlining funding allocation to each partnership group
  • Guidance issued to local partnerships
  • Grant award letter and administration award letter to TSIs
  • Commencement of Fund discussion and planning by local partnership groups (to assess local need, consideration of existing plans, gap analysis)
  • Ongoing collaboration by local partnership groups to agree local plans
  • Fund monitoring process and template issued to local partnership groups

Nov 2021

  • Local partnership groups begin to develop high level local plans for use of the Fund in their area and setting overarching aims for use of the Fund locally
  • National Oversight Group to supports development of local plans
  • Network meeting to share experiences
  • Fund application/assessment/distribution process finalised (TSI led)
  • Capacity building support for potential applicants that need this
  • Fund goes ‘live’ for community groups to start applying
  • Ongoing collaboration by local partnership groups around Fund decisions

Dec 2021

  • Fund application/assessment/distribution process continued
  • Ongoing collaboration by local partnership groups around Fund decisions
  • Network meeting to share experiences/progress in setting up Fund
  • Finalised high level local plans (informed by early engagement around potential funded organisations) submitted to the National Oversight Group
  • National Oversight Group review of local plans

Jan 2022

  • TSI to submit high level progress report on the delivery of the Fund

March 2022

  • TSI completed allocation of all funds
  • TSI to submit report of spend (and evidence of impacts to date) this financial year

April 2022 to March 2023

  • Year 2 of funding (subject to approval of the Scottish budget) – ongoing regular monitoring and reporting– note: in keeping with the Fund’s timeline we would expect to see more substantial evidence of impact in 2022 to 2023



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