Coronavirus (COVID-19): mental health - transition and recovery plan

This plan outlines our response to the mental health impacts of COVID-19. It addresses the challenges that the pandemic has had, and will continue to have, on the population’s mental health.

6. Children, Young People and Families

Looking ahead to transition and recovery, the mental health of children, young people and their families is to the fore of our thinking. Respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of children, young people and families is crucial, and as we develop and deliver our mental health response to Covid-19, the voices and experiences of children, young people and their families will remain central. This will be both in terms of how we support good mental wellbeing, and how we provide the right help and support. We acknowledge that evidence suggests children and young people's mental health and wellbeing, as well as that of their parents or carers, may be particularly affected by the impact of Covid-19. We will continue to put in place support such as Aye Feel, Parent Club and Solihull Online, to mitigate this impact.

When specialist services are required, we will seek to ensure CAMHS is available, responsive, effective and equitable. Through our work to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law, we will ensure the rights of children and young people to the highest attainable standard of healthcare.

We will develop a population health response to the issues affecting the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and their families.

  • 6.1 - Family Support. We will continue to support parents by developing a wider package of Covid-19 related family support, building on existing work, such as the introduction of Solihull Online.
  • 6.2 Signposting to Help and Support. We will continue our work to ensure that children, young people and their families will be clearly and quickly signposted to the right help and support where necessary. We will enhance and build on digital support developed during lockdown, such as Aye Feel and Parent Club.
  • 6.3 - Emotional Wellbeing. We are working with children, young people and families to understand the factors that have impacted on emotional wellbeing as a result of the pandemic and lockdown. Within this we will consider wider factors such as body image, screen time, disrupted sleep, worries about education, employment, toxic masculinity, or relationship issues. We will develop policy and actions in response to what we have heard and continue to deliver work already underway in these areas, such as the Mind Yer Time guidance for healthy social media use, and the work of the Body Image Advisory Group.
  • 6.4 - Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board. The ongoing work of the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board will be responsive and sensitive to the phases of this pandemic. It will consider the longer term impacts on young children and families associated with Covid-19. This includes establishing perinatal mental health services as a priority area for the roll out of Near Me services, providing dedicated support around Covid-19 to our existing third sector funded organisations, and building Covid-19 responsiveness into the applications for the recently launched Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Third Sector Fund.
  • 6.5 - Access to Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Services. In line with the 2020-21 Delivery Plan for the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board, we will establish a working group to gain a more detailed understanding of issues raised in the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board EQIA through further consultation and analysis. We will consider how recent Covid-19 driven innovations in mental health services can improve access for people with protected characteristics, and will seek to further embed these within services.

We will continue to develop mental health and wellbeing support in education and schools.

  • 6.6Training and Learning. In collaboration with Mental Health in Schools Working Group, we will develop and deliver a new mental health training and learning resource which will be available to all school staff by Summer 2021. This resource will include learning for school staff to respond to the impact of Covid-19 on children and young people's mental wellbeing.
  • 6.7 - Educational Psychology and School Counselling Services. The Educational Psychology services available in all local authorities will continue to play a key role in providing flexible and responsive support to vulnerable children, young people and their families/carers, working in conjunction with counselling and school nursing services (including CAMHS where necessary). Access to school counselling services can also support the health, emotional and social needs of young people and can help a healthy school culture. All schools will have access to a counselling service by the end of October 2020.
  • 6.8 - National Guidance. We will continue to work closely with education authorities to support implementation of the national guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19): Curriculum for Excellence in the Recovery Phase, which sets out that schools and education authorities should prioritise the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of children and young people, practitioners and families when developing the curriculum as children return to schools.
  • 6.9 - Whole School Approach. To support schools and educational practitioners, we will provide a framework to support a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing in the context of Covid-19. A Whole School Approach can be used by schools to adopt practice and measures to support mental health in the wider school environment. The framework document will illustrate effective practice currently being used in schools across the country, which other schools can then use in their own settings. This can involve all parts of the school including parents, carers and the wider community, working together to support children and young people's mental health and wellbeing.
  • 6.10 - Children and Families Workforce. By Autumn 2021, we will develop a national policy to support children and young people's mental health and wellbeing for all sectors of the children and families workforce (including the third sector, social services etc.). This will include guidance on a whole school approach for schools and educational practitioners, and will be supported by the framework for education and training currently being developed by NHS Education for Scotland.
  • 6.11 - Students. We will continue to ensure that university and college students have access to the right mental health support. We will build on our existing investments such as our commitment to provide 80 additional counsellors in colleges and universities, and the refocusing of the National Union of Students' Think Positive project to respond to Covid-19 mental health need. We will also continue to target our messaging on the availability of resources such as NHS 24 and Breathing Space to ensure they are well publicised in universities and colleges.

We will develop a response to support children, young people and families experiencing heightened distress

  • 6.12 - Community Support. We will continue to work with and support local authorities in establishing community mental health and wellbeing services and supports. Local partnerships are aiming to have the first services in place from January 2021 onwards, with support available across all 32 local authorities in 2021.
  • 6.13 - Children and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing Programme Board. In partnership with COSLA, we will review the deliverables, remit and membership of the Children and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing Programme Board in light of Covid-19.
  • 6.14 - Emotional Distress. We will develop services to respond to the damaging impacts on unregulated emotional distress in under 16s and the parents of children experiencing distress, as well as to women in the perinatal period.
  • 6.15 - The Promise. We recognise the impact Covid-19 has had on children and young people who are in the care system, as well as those on the edge of care. For many, it has led to increased isolation and highlighted the importance of maintaining relationships to support mental health and wellbeing. As part of the implementation of the Promise, published by the Independent Care Review, we will support the establishment of a dedicated, independent Promise Team. This will include a £4 million investment in the Promise Partnership, which will focus on holistic family support and promoting early intervention and prevention. Its work will be driven by the needs of, and designed with, children, young people and their families

We will maintain safe and effective treatment for children, young people and perinatal women experiencing mental illness.

  • 6.16 - Demand For CAMHS. While we have seen a reduction in CAMHS referrals over the lockdown period, we expect that there may be a significant increase in demand for CAMHS as we move through the next phases of the pandemic. We will factor this into our work on the renewal of NHS Mental Health Services, detailed above.
  • 6.17 - CAMHS Service Specification. Through our implementation of the CAMHS Service Specification, which outlines services standards that all Boards should follow, we will ensure children, young people and their families are able to access effective and equitable treatment and care from specialist mental health services when required, wherever they live in Scotland.
  • 6.18 - CAMHS Access Improvement. By March 2021, improvement work to improve access to CAMHS will have restarted across Scotland. In line with evolving need as a result of the pandemic, we will focus on improving the quality and accessibility of these services.
  • 6.19 - Neurodevelopmental Services – National Specification. Through the completion of our ongoing work, we will develop and implement a national specification for neurodevelopmental services which outlines service standards that all Boards should follow, to ensure access to this support is effective and consistent across Scotland.
  • 6.20 - Neurodevelopmental Services – Digital Support. We are working with professionals from across the sector to explore how best to support children, young people and families with neurodevelopmental support needs via digital means.



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