Community mental health and wellbeing supports and services: framework

This framework sets out a clear broad approach for the support that children and young people should be able to access for their mental health and emotional wellbeing within their community.


33. Community mental health and wellbeing supports and services should be easily accessible and available to all children, young people and their families/carers.

34. Effective assessment and planning should ensure that the needs of children and families are understood, and appropriate supports and services are identified and put in place to address those needs.

35. Easily accessing supports and services will mean having this in place wherever children, young people and families are going to access it or ask for it - for example within school, within general practice, in youth work or through other community settings. A single approach may not be appropriate, particularly to cover the full age range of 5-24 (26 for care leavers). For many children, support should be integrated into aspects of their daily lives. For others, it will need to be outwith these settings.

36. In order for community mental health and wellbeing supports and services to be as accessible as possible they should consider the following:

  • Hours of operation - supports and services should be available at times that children, young people and families/carers can access them, not solely 9-5 or weekdays. The Scottish Government is also considering how to further develop access to support for people in a crisis where they or their families/carers consider that urgent support is required. We would expect community services to link with crisis support when that is more readily available.
  • Support should be available as close to 365 days a year as possible.
  • There should be clear pathways linking community supports and services with all other parts of the whole-system.
  • Self-referral is an essential element. A well-known source of support locally that is accepted, trusted and easy to access by self-referral. There should also be other non-referral entry points e.g. open access, drop in and digital.

37. To ensure fully accessible and integrated support and services, there should be specific consideration of "at risk" groups. This means children and young people who, despite being at heightened risk of experiencing poor mental health, are at risk of not receiving the right help at the right time. This includes; those who are living in a care situation, have experience of the criminal justice system, are experiencing poverty or whose distress prevents them actively seeking support. Partnerships should also consider the impact of health inequalities and barriers to support.

38. This should systematically focus across all young people with protected characteristics as well as other groups of young people where there is evidence of poor mental health outcomes.

39. There should be appropriate consideration of discrimination and stigma and how this can be addressed in the design of the service. Engaging in co-production and utilising peer-to-peer support will be central to reducing stigma.

40. Additional measures to ensure that services are accessible may include:

  • All aspects of the service follow NHS Education Scotland (NES) trauma- informed practice guidelines;
  • Facilitated transport is available;
  • Flexible locations- this may include providing support alongside other more general supports available to that age group that may be frequently or easily accessed e.g. youth or sport clubs,
  • Support is available to those who have existing relationships with the child or young person, including multi-disciplinary consultation on how best to support the child.



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